Normal Reactions to Traumatic Events

Self Help Resources  Normal Reactions to Traumatic Events

If you have recently experienced a traumatic incident during the preceding month, you may experience normal reactions to the stressful experiences you have. Possible reactions include:

Physical Reactions

  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Hyperactivity
  • Startled Reactions
  • Exhaustion
  • Health Problems (e.g. digestive problems, headaches)
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Under Activity

Cognitive Reactions

  • Difficulty With Concentration
  • Difficulty Making Decisions
  • Difficulty Solving Problems
  • Memory Disturbance
  • Flashbacks
  • Inability to Attach Importance to Anything Other Than Incident

Emotional Reactions

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Emotional Numbing
  • Over Sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of Helplessness
  • Amnesia For the Event
  • Anger (Which may be manifested by scapegoating, irritability, violent fantasies)

These are normal reactions, and although painful, they are part of the natural healing process. There's very little you can do to not experience these uncomfortable feelings, but there are things you can do to feel more whole.

Things to Try

  • Within the first 24-28 hours, alternating periods of strenuous physical exercise with relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions.
  • Structure your time - keep busy.
  • You're normal and having normal reactions - don't label yourself crazy.
  • Do not try and numb the pain with overuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • Reach out to other people; talk to people about what you are experiencing.
  • Spend time with others and talk about your feelings.
  • Give yourself permission to feel depressed, overwhelmed and share your feelings.
  • Keep a journal and write your way through those sleepless hours.
  • Do things that feel good to you.
  • Don't make big life change decisions for several months.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Do make as many daily decisions as possible that will give you a feeling of control over your life.
  • Continue your normal pattern of activities as much as you can.

Self Help Resources  Normal Reactions to Traumatic Events