If you have been involved in a traumatic incident you are likely to have some form of reaction to it. These reactions may happen immediately or may not occur for weeks, months or occasionally years after the incident. Not everyone suffers reactions but the majority of us do. These reactions are likely to be worse if:-

  • The traumatic incident was caused by deliberate violence, or happened suddenly/unexpectedly, or in horrifying circumstances.
  • You had a feeling of helplessness or of wanting to have done more.
  • This stress came on top of other stresses in your life.
  • You do not have good support from family, friends or colleagues.

What follows has been compiled from the experiences of others who have been involved in traumatic incidents.

Emotional Reactions

Your emotions or feelings are likely to be in chaos after the event or you may be feeling nothing. Some of the more common emotional reactions are listed below.

  • Guilt. For not having done more. For having survived when others didn’t.
  • Anger. At what happened. At whoever caused the incident-or allowed it to happen. At the injustice or senselessness of it. At not being understood by others.
  • Fear. Of breaking down or loosing control. Of a similar event happening again and not being able to cope.
  • Shame. For not having reacted as you might have wanted to. For feeling helpless. emotional and wanting others to be with you.
  • Sadness. About the circumstances of the incident. You my feel depressed without knowing why.

Mental Reactions

You may find that you cannot stop thinking about the incident, dream about it or suffer loss of memory, concentration or motivation. You may experience flash-backs (feeling that part of the incident is happening again). You may hate to be reminded of it. You could feel that you are always on your guard or are easily startled.

Physical Reactions

You may experience tiredness, sleeplessness nightmare, dizziness, palpitations, shakes, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the throat and chest, sickness, diarrhoea, menstrual problems, changes in sexual interest or eating habits and many other symptoms, frequently without making a connection with the incident.

Other Difficulties

You may feel hurt and your relationships with others particularly your partner, may feel under strain. You may find yourself taking your anger out on your partner or family. You may not be aware that you are doing this and your partner will probably not understand that this is part of your reaction to the incident. You may find yourself emotionally withdrawing from your close relationships. You may reject the support of those closest to you.

You may find that the incident has reminded you of some past trauma in your life. Such feelings could come back with all their original force. They may also need to be dealt with.

What Can Be Done To Help

Nature often heals by allowing the feelings to come out and by making you want to talk about the incident. Talking about your feeling with your partner or a sympathetic listener is very helpful. Take the opportunity if it arises.

It will probably help those closest to you to understand and support you more effectively if you show them this information.

Talking to a trained counsellor or telephoning ASSIST is often a great help and can reduce much of the tension and anxiety. Trying to a void your feelings, or trying to avoid thinking or talking about the incident in the belief that you can cope is dangerous and can lead to the storing up of problems which may come out later in the form or worse physical or nervous difficulties.


When To Look For Professional Help

  • If you feel that you cannot handle intense feelings or body sensations, or if you feel that your emotions are not falling into place over a period of time and/or you feel chronic tension, emptiness or exhaustion.
  • If after a short period of time you continue to feel numb empty and you do not have any feelings.
  • If you have to keep active in an attempt to suppress your feelings.
  • If you have nightmares or are sleeping badly.
  • If your relationships are suffering or sexual problems develop.
  • If you start to have accidents at work or your performance suffers.
  • If you start to smoke or drink to excess.
  • If you are suffering from anxiety or depression.
  • If you cannot control your memories of the incident and they are affecting your personal wellbeing.
  • If you have no one to share your emotions with and feel you need to do so.
Do Remember
  • THAT TALKING ABOUT THE INCIDENT AND YOUR FEELINGS CAN HELP.
  • THAT ATTEMPTING TO SUPPRESS YOUR FEELINGS CAN CREATE FURTHER PROBLEMS.

If you feel that you would benefit from talking, in confidence, to someone who will offer you support and understanding please telephone ASSIST

Information Courtesy of ASSIST:
Assist is an organisation dedicated to offering support, understanding and friendship to individuals and families affected by Trauma

The Penthouse
11 Bank Street
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV21 2QE

Tel : 01788 551919
Helpline : 01788 560800
Email : assist@traumatic-stress.freeserve.co.uk

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