No one experiences distress in the same way. Some people may feel like they are in a daze or shock immediately after a traumatic event. For others, it may take days, weeks, or even years before they realize the full impact of what happened to them. These are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. But for some people, these reactions do not go away on their own. If you are still having trouble functioning after a few weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.
1. Avoiding Reminders of the Trauma
A common reaction to trauma is avoiding anything that reminds you of what happened. You may stop talking about the event, avoid people or places that remind you of it, or block out memories altogether. For some people, this avoidance can help them cope in the short term. But if it begins to hamper your life, it may signify that you need help dealing with the trauma.
If you are having nightmares about the trauma, you may be reliving the event repeatedly in your mind. This can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep and can leave you feeling exhausted during the day.
3. Flashbacks to Trauma
Flashbacks are different from nightmares. They are sudden, unexpected episodes where you feel like you are reliving the trauma. You may smell, hear or see things that remind you of the event, even if they are not really there. Flashbacks can be so real that you may feel like you are actually back in the traumatic situation.
It is normal to feel angry after a traumatic event. You may be angry at the person who harmed you, at the world for being so dangerous, or even at yourself for not being able to stop what happened. But if you cannot control your anger, it may signify that you need help dealing with the trauma.
5. Trouble Sleeping
Many people have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event. You may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also have nightmares, making it hard to get a good night’s rest. If you are not getting enough sleep, it can leave you feeling exhausted and make it hard to function during the day.
6. Problems in Relationships
The trauma may change the way you feel about yourself and the world around you. You may become withdrawn and stop participating in activities you used to enjoy. You may also have trouble trusting people, making it hard to maintain close relationships.
7. Feeling Detached
You may feel like you are numb or disconnected from your emotions. This can be a defense mechanism to help you cope with the trauma. But if you cannot feel anything, it may be a sign that you need help dealing with the event.
8. Easily Startled
You may be jumpy and on edge after the trauma. Loud noises, unexpected events, or anything that reminds you of the event can trigger a feeling of fear. This may make it tough to focus or feel safe in your own home.
Overall, if you are experiencing any of these signs, it is essential to seek professional help. A therapist can help you process the trauma and learn to cope with the symptoms. You don’t have to deal with the aftermath of a traumatic event alone.