Traumatic Events: Warning Signs and Management

2022-05-26 4 mins

A traumatic event is a type of incident that is highly stressful, shocking,  or dangerous. It can cause a lot of physical and psychological distress. Traumatic events are often marked by a feeling of helplessness, anxiety,   hopelessness, and extreme fear of death.

Experiences like natural disasters (such as earthquakes, and floods), war, terrorism, witnessing a death, domestic and sexual abuse, serious illness, car crashes, or other accidents are accounted as traumatic events.

Researchers are investigating various factors that can help people deal with stressful situations or that increase their risk for other health problems such as depression, following a traumatic event.

Warning Signs and Symptoms:

Every individual responds to traumatic events differently. However, shock and denial are the most common reactions.

According to the health experts, some people show immediate and brief responses while others show delayed but prolonged responses. Most people have an intense immediate response that can last for several weeks or even months.

These intense responses include:

  • Anxiety, grief, and rage
  • Trouble concentrating and sleeping, leading to laziness.
  • Continuous thoughts about the traumatic event

These responses are normal and expected to be lessened with time. But if these responses continue for a longer time and start interfering with one’s daily life, they should be addressed and treated immediately through some professional help such as online counseling.

Some warning signs that indicate that a person needs quick help include:

  • Anxiety, sadness, and fear
  • Crying often without any reason
  • Having trouble thinking clearly and performing well
  • Having flashbacks about the traumatizing event
  • Difficulty sleeping due to nightmares
  • Feeling irritable and becoming anti-social
  • Avoiding people, situations, and places that remind them of past stressful events

Similar to adults, children and teens also show these symptoms and develop kind of disrespectful and destructive behaviors.

They may feel guilty for failing to prevent the event, therefore develop feelings of revenge.

Some physical responses to trauma also indicate that an individual needs professional help. These physical responses include:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset, anorexia, and digestive issues
  • Pounding heart, rapid breathing, feeling shaky and sweaty
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling detached and confused
  • Being very jumpy and easily startled

Individuals who have faced some traumatic events in the past, suffer from a mental health problem, face chronic stress, or lack moral and financial support from friends and family are more likely to develop severe symptoms, and therefore need some additional help.

Some people shift to alcohol and smoking to manage their symptoms unaware of the fact that these substances only help temporarily. Moreover, their continuous use can lead to other health problems and get in the way of recovery.

Tips to cope with traumatic stress:

Some proven ways that can help you cope with traumatic stress are:

  • Try to stay engaged in your work and social life
  • Avoid addictive substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs
  • Try to spend quality time with your loved ones and friends who are always supportive
  • Pursue your hobbies
  • Maintain your normal routine
  • Give yourself time and recognize your power and control over happenings
  • Avoid major life decisions soon after the fearful event.

Finding Professional Help:

If you can’t practice any of the above-mentioned methods to cope with traumatic events, it is time to seek professional help. There are online counseling sessions and virtual counseling that can help you manage the situation. In virtual counseling, your counselor monitors your activities regularly and helps you to be accountable through an online virtual system.

This is an easily accessible service for everyone that ensures fast recovery.

The bottom line:

A traumatic event is a shocking experience that causes a lot of stress. Individuals show different physical and emotional responses to the trauma. If these responses interfere with life, they need to be managed through professional methods. Online counseling and virtual counseling are now widely used treatments that promise a fast recovery.

All information in this article is written based on the publication of The National Institute of Mental Health, a U.S based federal agency that researches mental disorders. The experts of NIMH provide information on mental health problems and the latest mental health research.