It’s a given that crime can adversely affect your health. Violent crimes such as assaults can obviously directly affect an individual’s physical health – but what about the ‘invisible,’ mental effects of crime?
Crime and the subsequent fear of it can have stark consequences for both mental health and personal and social well-being, and the damage done can be far more catastrophic than one might think. The Chair of Surgery at Cardiff University, Professor Shepherd, has spent years researching the effects of crime on people he has treated in hospital.
“Having treated people injured by violence for many years, I’m convinced that the mental health problems that are inflicted are often more serious and long-lasting than their physical injuries,” he said. According to his department’s research, of around 300,000 victims of violent crime treated in hospitals, about 40% will develop problems with their mental health and wellbeing. Professor Shepherd added that while the “mental health impacts of violence are common,” they are also “often neglected.”
The Violent Effects of Non-Violent Crime
But crime doesn’t have to be violent for a victim’s well-being to be irrevocably damaged. A recent study analyzed the non-physical effects of non-violent burglaries and found that 60% of burglary victims felt emotionally affected and experienced a range of responses including anger, shock, worry and fear. Other common responses experienced were “depression and anxiety” (35%) and “feeling tearful” (26%). Over half of the victims (57%) said that they experienced difficulty sleeping after they were burglarized.
The damage to children’s wellbeing is significant too. Children were often not affected so much by the loss of possessions, but the fact that someone has been in their home. Burglaries can be very traumatic for children, often resulting in nightmares, bed wetting, wanting to sleep in their parents’ bed, not wishing to go to school or leave their parents’ side.
These are troubling statistics. Large amounts of time, effort and money are pumped into strategies to reduce crime in the US, but dealing with the psychological impact of it also should not be minimized. It is normal to feel stress, anxiety, fear and shock after being subjected to a crime, even for non-violent crimes like burglaries or thefts: our sense of safety has been shattered, so feeling insecure, vulnerable and on edge is entirely natural.
In some cases, these reactions are prolonged and can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is defined by symptoms such as hypervigilance, being easily startled, anxiety, irritability, cognitive dysfunction, anger, mood changes, fearfulness, numbness, inability to experience joy or pleasure, loss of memory and avoiding areas associated with the trauma.
Natural Remedies to Treat Symptoms Relating to PTSD
In chronic cases, professional help should be sought, but there are also natural remedies that can help ease symptoms and support an individual through their healing process to recovery. In most cases, the effect of crime on health and well-being does not lead to PTSD, so it’s worth using some of these remedies for more general symptoms of unease most people feel after being the victim of a crime.
According to Dr. Edward Shalts, the former vice president of the National Center for Homeopathy, homeopathic remedies have been shown to have a profound effect on people suffering from PTSD. To counter some of the most common psychological effects of a crime, consider the following:
For nightmares: For children, stramonium is effective for both nightmares and night terrors, particularly when a child becomes afraid of the dark, and also is good for general anxiety, anguish, and sleeplessness; for adults, Staphysagria can help deal with nightmares.
For hypervigilance or hypersensitivity: Chamomilla can help bring a sense of calmness.
For stress and nervousness: Hops eases stress and restlessness, and is often used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, and pain. Valerian promotes calmness and relaxation. Holy basil supports the adrenal glands, protecting them from stress, and stinging nettle inhibits the production of adrenalin, which is released when an individual is under stress.
For illness caused through stress: Green tea strengthens the immune system helping those suffering from PTSD to resist acute illnesses; Rhodiola provides antioxidant support.