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Understanding Trauma

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, assault, or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical emotions to experience. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.

While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives.

Understanding common reactions

How you react to trauma will depend on many things, such as the event itself, your access to supports, other stresses you may be experiencing and your ability to cope. Common reactions include a range of physical, mental, emotional or behavioural factors

Making sense of the event

After the traumatic event you may try to make sense of it by thinking about:

  • How and why did it happen?
  • How and why did you get involved?
  • Why do you feel this way?
  • Has the experience changed your outlook on life and how?
Set small goals

Try to set goals that are achievable for you, even if it’s on a day-by-day or hour-by-hour basis

Talk to someone

Reach out to your friends. If you’re having trouble talking to people you know, phone a telephone counselling helpline (e.g. Kids Help Line, Lifeline or SuicideLine)

Avoid being alone

Have someone stay with you until your thoughts of suicide decrease

Stay healthy

Exercise and eating well can help you to feel better and manage difficult things in your life. Start by doing something small a couple of times a week

Common Reactions

Behavioural reactions

Physical reactions

Mental reactions

Emotional reactions

What can you do

  • Acknowledge that you’ve experienced a distressing or frightening even
  • Accept that you will have a reaction and not feel your normal self 
  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope
  • Talk to someone who can help and support you Maintain your normal routine
  • When you’re tired, take a rest Do some regular exercise Try to relax and do some things you enjoy (e.g. yoga, meditation, deep breathing, listening to music)

How we can help

If you have experienced a distressing or frightening event you may have strong reactions, these reactions are normal. There are many things you can do to cope with and recover from such an experience. Psychologists and Counsellors can help you find constructive ways of managing your emotions.

Contact us today to make an appointment.