Effects of Traumatic Incidents

Effects of Traumatic Incidents

Sometimes, people can be affected by feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. This can happen when someone is suddenly in danger. These are called traumatic experiences.

They can include being:

  • Physically attacked
  • In a serious accident
  • In combat
  • Sexually assaulted
  • In a fire
  • In a disaster like a hurricane or a tornado

These traumatic experiences can cause trouble in the survivor's family. Problems are more likely if the trauma is severe and the survivor does not get help.

How do these experiences affect people?

People who go through this can have symptoms later. How serious the symptoms and problems are can depend on:

  • A person's life before the trauma
  • How well a person can cope with stress
  • How serious the trauma was
  • What kinds of support a person gets right after the trauma; it can come from family, friends and/or professionals

Most survivors don't know how trauma will affect them. They might not understand what is happening to them, they might think it is their fault that the trauma happened, or they might think that they are going crazy. They might also think that there is something wrong with them because other people who were there don't have the same problems.

Some might turn to drugs or alcohol to make them feel better or might turn away from friends and family who don't seem to understand. They may not know how to get better.

What do survivors need to know?

  • It can happen to anyone. No one can protect themselves.
  • It is common to have long-term problems after a trauma. Up to eight percent of people will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some time in their lives.
  • People who react to traumas are not going crazy. Their problems are related to being in a traumatic situation.
  • Having symptoms after a traumatic event is not a sign of personal weakness. It happens to many well-adjusted people.
  • People who understand the effects of trauma can manage them better.
  • People who know about the effects and symptoms can better decide about getting treatment.

What are common symptoms?

Symptoms can begin soon after a trauma. This is because survivors get overwhelmed with fear when the trauma happens. The main symptoms are:

  • Going through the trauma again in your mind and with your body
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma

These symptoms create PTSD. PTSD is a specific set of problems resulting from a traumatic experience. It is recognized by medical and mental health professionals.