Witnessing or experiencing a tragic event can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional health, but these incidents can also affect each of us differently. The timing of our responses to tragedy may also vary greatly. Some experience immediate signs and symptoms, while it may be days or weeks before others have a reaction. Regardless of how tragedy affects us, it is important to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel as we work through the process of healing.
Some common responses to traumatic events may include:
Physical Reactions: Insomnia, fatigue, hyperactivity, headaches, dizziness*, appetite changes, pains in the neck or back, heart palpitations or chest pains* (*If these symptoms persist, you should consult with a physician.)
Emotional Reactions: Flashbacks or “reliving” the event, irritability, anger, feelings of anxiety or helplessness, feelings of being overwhelmed or vulnerable, restlessness
Effects on Productivity: Lack of concentration, lapses of memory, increased errors or mistakes, increased absenteeism, tendency to overwork/underwork
In most cases, the signs and symptoms of trauma lessen with time, but if you experience any variety of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time – more than two weeks – you should immediate seek professional help. (Call NRVCS 24/7 at 540-961-8400.)
Helping and Talking with Children
Unfortunately, children are also often exposed to traumatic events these days. If they are at an appropriate age and ask questions, it is important that you share basic information with them, listen to their fears or concerns, and ultimately reassure them that they are safe. Not knowing what is happening – or getting their information from another source – could cause added stress or make them feel as if a situation is worse than it really is.
Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage, give them comfort and affection, and spend time together as a family.
Again, be aware of signs or symptoms that your child may be experiencing and seek professional help if those symptoms persist for more than two weeks. To get help, call NRVCS 24/7 at 540-961-8400.
– Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Tips for Parents and Teachers
– Coping with a Traumatic Event