Trauma describes the psychological effects caused by a distressing or frightening event or series of events. It can develop immediately after experiencing the event, or months or even years later. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur in the aftermath of trauma, however, trauma can also result in conditions such as depression and anxiety or other mental health difficulties.
Examples of the types of events which could cause traumatic reactions include: accidents involving injury, bereavement, medical emergencies, violence, natural disasters, war, prolonged bullying, neglect and abuse. Trauma can be caused by experiencing an event directly or indirectly, for example by witnessing something traumatic happening to someone else. Trauma and PTSD can have a significant impact on daily functioning and well-being and can lead to feelings of isolation, irritability, and guilt. Fortunately, whilst the symptoms can be severe and debilitating, there are a number of evidence-based treatments available.
Actions that can help
- Whilst it is normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts and experiences following a traumatic event, you should visit your GP if these symptoms are still present more than four weeks after the event.
- Learn some specific techniques to manage flashbacks such as: focusing on your breathing, carrying an object that brings you to the present moment, telling yourself you’re safe, comforting yourself, keeping a diary, and learning grounding techniques. For more information see Mind
- You may find it helpful to join a self-help or support group. There are many resources that can be shared that will help you manage your PTSD. For examples of where to find these groups please see: Combat Stress, Rape Crisis, Victim Support, and CRUSE.
- Whilst undergoing treatment for PTSD, ensure to provide yourself with plenty of self-care. Recovery can be difficult and tiring so it’s important to look after all aspects of your physical and mental health during this time.
- Learn to identify your triggers and share these with those around you. This can help both yourself and others to better manage your anxiety.