Trauma results from many experiences, including:
- Physical assault.
- Sexual assault.
- Natural disasters.
- Loss of a loved one.
Some traumatic events happen once and involve an injury or threat of injury to yourself, friends or loved ones. These experiences may induce overwhelming feelings of terror or helplessness.
Other traumas can happen repeatedly over a long time. They generate feelings of guilt, anxiety or shame.
You can be involved in a traumatic event, or just witness something and still be traumatized by it – a reaction called traumatic stress. These reactions can last long after the event is over.
After a trauma, you may face:
- Fear and anxiety — Thinking about the trauma can make you anxious, and sometimes this anxiety comes out of nowhere.
- Re-experiencing the trauma — Unwanted thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks can spring up.
- Increased arousal — You may feel alert, jumpy, jittery, shaky and have trouble concentrating. If this feeling persists, you may get more irritable and have trouble sleeping.
- Avoidance — You may want to avoid the place where something bad happened, just feel numb or even avoid all feelings.
- Uncontrollable feelings of anger, shame or guilt — You may get irritable with the people trying to help. Remember: you are not to blame.
- Grief and depression — You may feel hopeless, cry often and lose interest in things and people. You may even wonder why you should go on. This is a red flag. You need to talk to a counselor, now!
- Relationship trouble — Trusting people, feeling good about yourself and having sexual relationships may be tough following a trauma. Be kind to yourself. Your reaction is normal. Talk to people you care about, and don’t use alcohol or drugs to mask these feelings.
You need face-to-face support to deal with the distress that accompanies living through a tragedy or trauma. Please talk to your doctor and get support from a person trained to assist people recovering from trauma.
Last Reviewed: November 2019