If you or a loved one experience or witness a life-threatening event, you may feel extremely upset or confused afterwards. Other effects can include trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, feeling numb or angry, and sleep or appetite problems. You may think about what happened over and over at first. Some examples of traumas include: natural disasters, first responder trauma, abuse, combat, serious accidents, or addiction related trauma.
Although your reactions are uncomfortable, feeling this way usually decreases over the next few days or months after the event. Our minds often need time to process what happened and to heal from it. Even after experiencing an intense trauma, many people recover well after two to three months.
Some people continue to feel upset or have mental health symptoms longer. They may need to seek help, such as with a licensed clinical social worker, mental health counselor or psychologist. Think in terms of being a normal person who is going through an abnormal event. It is understandable to feel upset after something bad happens. Try not to be angry at yourself for having these feelings.
Coping tips include the following:
Try to maintain a normal routine as much as possible.
Seek out supportive people in your family and/or friends who can listen, or just spend time with you.
“Ground” yourself to the present. For example, tell yourself that you are safe now, use your five senses to take in pleasant experiences, or play a categories game in your mind to help think about something else.
Spend time with a pet if this is comforting.
Try to avoid alcohol or other substance use, as it can delay mental healing or can make matters worse.
Reach out for help if needed. Here are some options.
Check out the National Center for PTSD online for more helpful coping tips for dealing with trauma.
Download the free “App” called PTSD Coach from the Veterans Administration.
Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
Text the national crisis text line at 741741: text the word “HOME” to start.
Call Tioga County Mental Hygiene at 687-4000 for assistance through the Mental Health Clinic or through our Alcohol and Drug Services.
Know that you are not alone; help is available if needed. Healing from unexpected or tragic events is possible.
Cathy Healy, LCSW-R is the Clinical Program Director at Tioga County Mental Hygiene. The Clinic can be reached during normal business hours by calling 687-4000.