Traumatic Stress

What is Traumatic Stress?

There are different types of traumatic events including natural disasters, experiencing a crime, and car accidents. A person can be affected if they are directly or indirectly involved with the event. These experiences can upset or distress a person. They can bring about powerful and disturbing feelings, affecting them emotionally. After experiencing a traumatic event, it is a normal response to have traumatic stress. It becomes a concern when a person's daily life is interrupted by it.

Signs and Symptoms

There is not a "correct" way to respond to traumatic events, but there are some common symptoms:

  • Reliving the event
  • Having disbelief
  • Fear, sadness, guilt, anger, shame
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling anxious
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness
  • Easily startled
  • Dizziness
  • Cold Sweats
  • Trembling
  • How is it managed?

    Self Help

    An important first step is to accept your feelings. They are a normal response to a traumatic event; however, this appearance does not have to be immediate. It can be difficult to accept not only your feelings, but the event that occurred. A person should also take time for him or herself, whether alone or time spent with the people close to him or her.

    Additionally, if a person experiences an event that made the news, it sometimes helps to avoid seeing the media coverage of it. Also, it is sometimes helpful to connect with others who were involved with the event. Some find it helpful to spend time with people who had the same experience or join a support group for people that went through a similar experience.

    Exercise can also help because it can get rid of any adrenaline a person is feeling and it can release endorphins (a chemical that improves a person's mood). Eating a healthy diet is another way to improve one's mood. Healthy foods can relieve stress and boost energy.

    One should also not be afraid to reach out to others for help. A person does not have to talk about the experience, but a person may feel better in general if they are comforted. However, an individual may also feel relief from talking about it with others.

    Another thing that may help is to establish a routine. It can make a sense of familiarity which can then create comfort. If the mind is occupied, it will not think as much on the traumatic event. Doing "normal" things with others can also serve as a distraction. Having too much stress can impede with the healing process so it is important to avoid or reduce it. Relaxation can be a way to reduce stress and keep the mind off the traumatic event.

    Professional Help

    The symptoms listed above that occur after a traumatic event usually go away in a short time (about a month or two); but if it becomes very intense and interferes with an individual's daily life or they last more than a short time, a person should seek professional help. Some signs are:

  • Difficulty functioning at home and work
  • Overcome by feelings of sadness, anxiety, or nervousness
  • Having flashbacks
  • Nightmares about the event
  • Difficulty connecting with other
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Avoidance of things that are reminders of the traumatic event

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