Coping With Traumatic Events
Traumatic events can be scary or dangerous. These include natural disasters, accidents, or violent events. Experiencing one can affect both your body and mind.
It’s common to have an intense reaction after a traumatic event. You may feel anxious, sad, or angry. Trauma can also cause trouble with sleep or concentration. You might find yourself thinking about what happened over and over. It can also cause physical symptoms—like headaches, feeling tired, and being easily startled.
For most people, these problems lessen with time. But for some people, the effects of trauma last longer. If they interfere with everyday life, it’s important to seek professional help.
Signs that it’s time for help include having frightening flashbacks, feeling out of control, avoiding people or places, and having trouble thinking clearly. If you’ve become disconnected from family and friends, it’s important to get help so you can recover.
A mental health professional can talk with you, give you tools to manage the effects of trauma, and help you develop healthy coping strategies. Experts recommend connecting with trusted friends and loved ones who are supportive. Try to stick with normal routines for meals, exercise, and sleep. Staying active is also a good way to cope with stressful feelings.
Talk with your health care provider if you need help. If you’re in distress, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. Find more resources.
NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Building 31, Room 5B52
Bethesda, MD 20892-2094
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Alan Defibaugh
Attention Editors: Reprint our articles and illustrations in your own publication. Our material is not copyrighted. Please acknowledge NIH News in Health as the source and send us a copy.