There are many events that can be considered traumatic, and those events can lead to serious mental and even physical side effects for months or years to come.
There are situations such as serious illnesses or assaults that can be considered a traumatic event.
Roadway accidents and especially serious car accidents lead to injury can often cause trauma. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, the death of a loved one, and even the recent pandemic can also be traumatic experiences.
While negative life events happen to everyone at some point, they don’t always lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a diagnosable mental health condition with a set of symptoms.
Learning more about PTSD and the next steps for treatment can be important to help you get past a traumatic event.
Emotional or psychological trauma can be caused by a single event, such as some of those named above.
It can also be the result of ongoing stress. For example, living in a neighborhood with a lot of crime or being in a situation where there’s domestic violence can lead to trauma.
Sometimes, even if you aren’t directly involved in a traumatic event, it can still cause you emotional distress. Terrorist attacks are an example of this. If you’re watching the news or you’re regularly on social media, and you see images of these events over and over again, it can be very traumatizing.
Symptoms of Trauma
Some of the symptoms of trauma can include confusion and problems with concentration, guilt or shame, anxiety and fear, confusion and concentration problems, and shock or denial. Physical symptoms can include insomnia, fatigue, and startling easily. A racing heart, agitation, and muscle tension or pain are also symptoms of trauma.
What is PTSD?
Not everyone but some people who experience a traumatic event will go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It’s a severe physical and emotional response to an event that can last for months.
There are three main types of PTSD. There is reliving, avoidance, and increased arousal.
Re-living includes flashbacks and extreme responses to triggering events that remind someone of an event. Physical reactions to triggers might include shaking or heart palpitations.
Avoidance means staying away from anything that you could feel is related to the traumatic event you experienced. PTSD characterized by avoidance can lead someone to be estranged from the people in their life.
Symptoms of PTSD defined by increased arousal include being extremely alert or easily startled. Someone with increased arousal PTSD might also have outbursts of anger and they may have brain fog or problems concentrating.
What Should You Do?
If you have ongoing symptoms linked to a traumatic event, there are things you should do and also some things not to do.
Coping is possible, but you can’t get past these events overnight.
First, you should give yourself time and be patient with yourself. It can take months to work through what you’re feeling after a traumatic event. You may need to go through the grieving process as well.
You should work toward facing the reality of the situation and ask for support and help from friends and family as you need it. You might not be able to talk about the traumatic event right away, but gradually, over time, try to share at a pace you’re comfortable with.
Create a routine for yourself that you follow, but don’t be too hard on yourself.
The more you can get out and do things that you view as normal, the better as you’re coping with the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Don’t try to hold your feelings in because that’s only going to make you feel worse. Also, a common response people have to trauma is that they will try to take on too much as a means of taking their mind of a traumatic event. That can quickly lead to burnout.
Following a traumatic event, try not to make any big decisions or life changes for a while.
Finally, for many people, seeing a professional is also an important part of getting past trauma.
You might do this if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with people you know, or you’re overwhelmed by how you’re feeling. If you’re not returning to at least a semblance of normalcy around six weeks after a traumatic event, it can also be a good idea to see a professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one treatment option that a professional can utilize to help you work through a traumatic event.