Common Reactions to Trauma

The following information is a list of common experiences people go through after a traumatic event. These experiences are normal reactions to what we call “abnormal events” (the traumatic events).

The Following are Normal Reactions to Trauma

Re-experiencing the trauma
You may experience unwanted thoughts, nightmares, daydreams, and flashbacks (feeling as if the trauma is happening again).

Increased alertness
You may feel very alert, jumpy, and/or shaky. You may feel on edge. You may feel your heart racing or pounding and you may experience sweating.

Trouble sleeping
You may have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. You may experience nightmares or night sweats. You may feel sleepy and sluggish and find yourself sleeping excessively.

Uncontrollable feelings of anger
You may find that you are more irritable with people, including those people who care about you or are trying to help you. You may experience feelings of uncontrollable anger, aggression and a desire for revenge.

Difficulties with concentration and focus
You may find it hard to concentrate or have a hard time remembering things.

Uncontrollable feelings of shame or guilt
You may feel embarrassed by what happened to you or feel you are responsible for what happened and blame yourself for it.

Negative thoughts about yourself and the world
You may be telling yourself “I am bad” or feeling that the world is dangerous and nowhere is safe.

You may avoid people, places or situations that remind you of what happened. You may avoid your feelings, pushing them away. You may feel emotionally numb – as if you don’t have any feelings.

Fear or anxiety
Thinking about the trauma can make you fearful or anxious. These feelings of fear or anxiety can also come out of nowhere.

Grief and depression
You may feel hopeless. You may lose interest in things, people and places. You may find yourself crying often without being able to control it. You may even find yourself thinking, “Why go on?” If you find yourself asking the last question you need to seek professional help right away!

Relationship trouble
You may have a hard time trusting people. Relationships may be tough to maintain following a trauma.

What can you do to help yourself?

You are experiencing normal reactions to an abnormal event. Be kind to yourself and talk to people you know will support you. Please remember that even though it may feel like it is helping in the moment, using alcohol or drugs to mask these feelings will not help you recover in the long term.

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