Dealing with Traumatic Events

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Traumatic events are characterized as events, or a series of events, causing a high level of stress and can often be accompanied by feelings of helplessness or horror. Traumatic events can include injury, the threat of injury or death. Emotional trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a result of a traumatic event.


    What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?


    PTSD usually involves both a physical and emotional response to traumatic events. Symptoms can last days, weeks and often months after the event. People suffering from PTSD may go through periods of:


    Reliving the event through flashbacks or nightmares. They may have feelings of intense fear or guilt even at the thought or when reminded of the event. Or they may experience a numbing of all emotion. Sometime people experience physical reactions to the memory of the event, such as heart palpitations, headaches or trembling.

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    Avoiding any place, person or thing that may be a reminder of the event. This can include avoiding family and friends to avoid having to think about or remember the event. Some people may not avoid people in their life but may feel a detachment or lack emotional responses.


    In addition, people suffering from PTSD may experience symptoms such as insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts or panic attacks, inability to concentrate, anger, and irritability. They may feel alone and believe no one can understand what he or she is going through.


    What Can You Do?


    If you have experienced a traumatic event and are experiencing some of the symptoms listed for PTSD, this may be normal. Many people may experience some of these symptoms for a short period of time after the event, however, if you have been experiencing symptoms for an extended period of time or if your symptoms are interfering with relationships or work, you should seek the help of a medical professional.


    According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are some additional measures you can take after experiencing a traumatic event:


    • Keep your daily routine
    • Resolve conflicts as they arise so you minimize added stress
    • Continue to socialize with people, even if they remind you of the event
    • Don't avoid situations or places that may remind you of the event
    • Talk with a therapist, counselor, friends or member of the clergy about the event for support
    • Participate in leisure and recreational activities


    It is important to understand it is normal to experience feelings of stress after a traumatic event. But these feelings should diminish over time, if they do not seek medical help.






    "Coping with a Traumatic Event", Reviewed 2005, July 26, Centers for Disease Control, US. Government


    "About Experiencing or Witnessing a Traumatic Event", Date Unknown, Author Unknown, Brooklyn Counseling Program

Published On: November 17, 2008