This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman.
Recent years have put the spotlight on our physical and mental health. And it’s not surprising. A traumatic event like a pandemic can put your mental health in a tailspin and affect your physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event” like an accident or natural disaster.
Because your mental and physical health is “closely connected,” experiencing a traumatic event can wreak havoc on your overall wellbeing. Not only can it create problems for your health, but it can also put strains on other areas of your life including relationships.
Understanding trauma and recognizing the effects of such an event on you is key to your recovery. Every situation is unique and yours is no exception. So, if you have encountered a traumatic event in your life, you should take steps to identify the harm it may be causing you and how to cope with it.
A traumatic event can take many forms and the impact of such events on individuals can vary from one person to the next. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says these events are the cause of immense stress and are “marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.”
Yet, some of these events are considered common as many people experience them during their lifetime. Here is a short list of common traumatic events:
There are, of course, many more forms of traumatic events. Others include incidents like rape, terrorism, war, mugging, physical assault, etc. Unfortunately, what these events have in common is the negative impact they cause on those who experience it such as “physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm.” But the harm they cause may not always be obvious to the sufferer.
Not everyone will react to something traumatic the exact same way. Some of the initial reactions can include confusion, anxiety, agitation, sadness, and exhaustion. Some people might go into shock or denial. Most of these reactions may be expected or even normal.
The pain and suffering after a distressing experience may be noticeable to some people. But this is not true for everyone. For although some people may have serious emotional reactions, there may not be any visible signs they need help.
Fortunately, there are signs and various symptoms to watch for following the event. These will alert you that you or your loved one is struggling and should seek assistance to help you cope. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that indicate you or someone you know may be struggling due to a traumatic event.
Physical: The physical symptoms you might suffer following a traumatic event are a red flag. They can alert the victim just as any other illness or injury. Some of these can include:
Emotional: Emotions can run high after experiencing trauma and affect loved ones with emotional outbursts and other post-traumatic signs including:
Behavioral: Changing behaviors can be a detriment to your health and signal your struggle to deal with your emotions. These can include:
Of course, how someone reacts to traumatic events can vary greatly. And it’s normal for people to respond with a variety of reactions following the event. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, “most will recover from their symptoms over time.”
In addition, some symptoms may be short-term while others may be longer-term. However, if your symptoms continue, you “may be diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)” and should seek help to handle your stress levels.
Identifying that you have symptoms related to trauma is just the first step in the recovery process. But healing may require professional assistance, especially if the symptoms persist. If you are unable to function or find yourself having suicidal thoughts, it’s time to seek the help of a professional.
Here are some things you can do for yourself or someone you know who might be suffering from a traumatic event: