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Some Common Serious Reactions to Trauma and How to Deal with Them - PTSD Self-help

Updated on December 11, 2010

 If you have experienced or witnessed trauma, you may have some reactions which make you feel crazy. The following reactions, however, are normal responses after a horrific situation.

Emotional Effects: shock, anger, despair, emotional numbing, no longer enjoying regular activities, dissociation (feeling spacey or like you're on automatic pilot), guilt, grief or sadness, helplessness.

Physical Effects: fatigue, insomnia, sleep disturbance, anxiety or being startled easily, always watching for something bad to happen, physical symptoms like headaches, decreased ability to fight infection, digestive problems like nausea or diarrhea, decreased appetite, decreased sex drive.

Effects on Thinking: difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, memory problems, disbelief, confusion, lowered self-esteem, intrusive thoughts and memories (flashbacks), worry

Interpersonal Effects: alienation, social withdrawal, more conflict in relationships, difficulty at work or school.

If you are having these effects, try to be understanding with yourself. Eat balanced, regular meals. Get your rest. Avoid caffeine. Avoid using drugs (including alcohol) to numb the pain.

Structure your time and set priorities while maintaining your routine. Avoid major changes or decisions. Make small decisions to reassert your sense of control.

Do things you enjoy. Maintain your relationships. Talk about your trauma, but set limits on how much time you'll give to it. Don't deny or avoid thoughts of the incident. Write down your thoughts.

Get professional help if needed.


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    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US


      so sorry you had to go through that. in my town we have a free service for women who have been through abuse. perhaps there is something where you are. it's a lot to deal with alone. i hope you heal well and soon.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This was timely reading for me. I recently was traumatized when a man tried to sexually assault me. I have had trouble getting over the fear, sleeping on the sofa instead in my bed, etc. I shall utilize your tips and ideas. Thanks so much, HB.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

      i hope some "little tip" brightens your day, cbr. thanks for reading.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 5 years ago from Washington MI

      Good things to remember. Having PTSD can be slight and often times extreme. Every little tip helps, thank you.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US


      i was engaged in the '80's to a guy who hit me. therapy really helped. i wonder if you have the right therapist.

      when i first broke up with my abuser, i was quite angry. though i tried not to let the anger spill over to other relationships, sometimes it did. all i could do was apologize. most folks weren't very forgiving. about a year after the break-up, i calmed down. i basically started over from square one with friendships. i found some life-long friends in the support group that helped me break up with R and found other friends at work.

      glad you are writing. it's a safe way to vent. don't forget to take breaks for fun from the seriousness of grief work.

      you may never forget your trauma, but it will become less important as time passes. i'm now married to a great guy and rarely think about R. aim to make your life happy, whatever that takes. "the best revenge is living well."

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 6 years ago from Washington MI

      Useful hub. I have been experiencing trauma for some time and have been doing my best to work through it. My relationships and personal life are taking the worst of it. Therapy is not very comforting at this time, but I am forcing myself to write down events of the grief and loss. Which I really just want to forget. But your hub reminds me to keep going forward and not give in or up no matter how I change life might be different, but it still is life. Thank you.

    • mdlawyer profile image

      mdlawyer 6 years ago

      Cathylynn99, useful and informative hub on traumas and health. VOTED UP! Rated USEFUL!! You may visit and read my hubs also and vote too. You can vote up or down. Voting affects the hubscore and that influences the search rank of the hub. If more vote ups, better rank. If more vote downs, lower search rank.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US


      hope your day never comes. thanks for the compliment.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      I,m lucky, as most traumas seem to just barely affect me.

      But my day will probably come, as it comes to everyone else.

      Thanks for that very useful hub.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      some folks just aren't as susceptible to the effects of trauma. there are studies underway to find out why. we know the symptoms are worse if the perpetrator of physical trauma resulting in loss of limb or life is someone close to the victim or witness.

      thanks for the nice votes.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      This Hub was/is most interesting to me. In part, that's because my wife has clearly gone through not just one but MANY trauma-inducing experiences in her lifetime and has displayed virtually every symptom on your list.

      But the deepest, most personal "finding" here is that--apparently, I've NEVER ONCE experienced trauma in my OWN life. At least not if one judges by the list of symptoms. Oh, sure, I've managed to feel guilty for a mistake here and there, and I'm capable of grieving over a loss...but only within what I'd say were pretty clearly healthy parameters. And nothing else, no real depression, no loss of appetite, never ever feeling helpless per se....

      Which is a tad puzzling for a fellow who's gone through six divorces, two bankruptcies, had a really profitable job Obamified in late 2008, etc., etc.

      Maybe I'm just really really really good at denial? LOL!

      Up and Useful!