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Responses to Trauma: What You Should Know

From:
City Crisis Team of New York (CCTNY)

YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS EXPERIENCED A TRAUMATIC EVENT
 

Traumatic events overwhelm our coping mechanism and can cause us to experience unusually strong emotional reactions that may interfere with our ability to function.

 

Even though the event itself may be over, you may continue to experience some strong reactions or aftershocks. Sometimes these aftershocks occur a few hours or days after the event. In other cases, weeks, months or years may pass before they appear or are triggered.

The aftershocks or signs and symptoms of stress reaction may last for a brief or an extended period of time depending on the severity of the event and the amount of exposure you had to it.

 

The support of others help the stress reactions pass more quickly than if you try to handle it on your own. Occasionally, regardless of supportive friends and family, the traumatic event has such a great impact that professional assistance from a Trauma Counselor is necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful.

 

Common Reactions to Trauma

 

Individuals often experience trauma-related symptoms following a traumatic event. Reactions tend to fall on a continuum and can change over time. Responses to trauma exposure will also vary depending upon ones age, life experiences, support system, culture, values & belief systems.

 

 

The symptoms listed below are generally common and normal responses to uncommon and abnormal traumatic situations.

 

Physical

       Increase in heart rate and blood pressure, chest pain

       Headaches, stomach aches & nausea, vomiting

       Muscle spasms, difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, twitches or shakes

       Fatigue, teeth grinding, profuse sweating.

       Startle response, jumpiness


These symptoms may indicate a need for a medical evaluation. When in doubt, see a physician.

 

Behavioral

       Changes in patterns of sleep and/or changes in patterns of eating and sex

Substance Abuse (Caffeine, alcohol, prescription & non prescription medications)
       Reverting to old patterns and behavior. Ex: smoking

 

       Withdrawal, pacing, erratic movements, change in speech patterns

       Hyper-reactive

 

Cognitive

       Difficulty concentrating or remembering information, difficult problem solving

       Confusion, nightmares,

       Hyper or decreased vigilance and awareness of surroundings; disorientation

       Intrusive images

 

Emotional

       Sadness, anger, frustration, panic, denial, irritability, mood swings

       Feeling overwhelmed

       Short-tempered, lack of patience, increased aggressiveness and agitation

      Numbness, withdrawal

       Increased sense of blame, guilt and shame I could of, should of, would have; strategies to create the illusion that you could of/can be in control & change what has happened

       Desire (or lack of desire) for physical contact and communication

 

Spiritual

       Anger at God and/or clergy

       Loss or deterioration of faith

       Loss of meaning or purpose

       Faith practices and rituals seem empty

City Crisis Team of New York (CCTNY)
c/o September Space
520 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
 
917-327-3405