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Coping With a Traumatic Event

A traumatic event turns your world upside down.

After surviving a disaster or act of violence, people may feel dazed or even numb. They may also feel sad, helpless, or anxious. In spite of the tragedy, some people just feel happy to be alive.

It is not unusual to have bad memories or dreams. You may avoid places or people that remind you of the disaster. You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or paying attention. Many people have short tempers and get angry easily.

These are all normal reactions to stress. It will take time before you start to feel better.

You may have strong feelings right away. Or you may not notice a change until much later, after the crisis is over. Stress can change how you act with your friends and family. It will take time for you to feel better and for your life to return to normal. Give yourself time to heal. These steps may help you feel better.

A traumatic event disrupts your life. There is no simple fix to make things better right away. But there are actions that can help you, your family, and your community heal. Try to:

  • Follow a normal routine as much as possible.
  • Eat healthy meals. Be careful not to skip meals or to overeat.
  • Exercise and stay active.
  • Help other people in your community as a volunteer. Stay busy.
  • Accept help from family, friends, co-workers, or clergy. Talk about your feelings with them.
  • Limit your time around the sights and sounds of what happened. Donít dwell on TV, radio, or newspaper reports on the tragedy.

Sometimes the stress can be too much to handle alone.

Ask for help if you:

  • Are not able to take care of yourself or your children.
  • Are not able to do your job.
  • Use alcohol or drugs to get away from your problems.
  • Feel sad or depressed for more than two weeks
  • Think about suicide.

If you or someone you know is having trouble dealing with a tragedy, ask for help. Talk to a counselor, your doctor, or community organization, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).

Because of the tremendous loss of life, serious injuries, missing and separated families, and destruction of whole areas often associated with disasters, it is important that relief workers recognize the situation they encounter may be extremely stressful. Keeping an item of comfort nearby, such as a family photo, favorite music, or religious material, can often offer comfort in such situations. Checking in with family members and close friends from time to time is another means of support.

For more information see:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


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Copyright © 1995 - 2010 Regina Pickett Garson
All writings, graphics and scripts are copyright by the individual authors. Nothing on this site may be reproduced without permission of the individual authors.

No claims are made as to the reliability of any of the information provided or linked, sources often disagree. None of these pages are meant to be a replacement for professional help, but a resource that enables one to be a more intelligent consumer. You can learn a lot by becoming aware of different opinions. Don't be afraid to ask questions when it comes to your health, physical or emotional.

Regina Garson, Publisher
garson@hiwaay.net

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