If you’ve experienced a life threatening trauma it’s vitally important to deal with it to prevent it developing into a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder . Some of the symptoms might be unexpected but could be an indication that the trauma is affecting you more than you thought.
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty falling asleep
- You relive experiences and feel anxiety
- Excessively watchful and careful
- Startled response
- Headaches and runny tummy
- Avoidance – thoughts, feelings, people and places
- Anger, bitterness and resentment
- Depression – listless, weepy and loss of purpose
- Feel you’re not coping with everyday tasks
- Feel disorientated
- Denial – suppress feelings and emotions
- Underplay incident
- Mood swings
- Lack of faith and belief
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms be assured that this is perfectly normal after a life-threatening trauma.
12 Strategies for coping with trauma
Express your feelings and emotions.
Talking and leaning on those close to you is important for your recovery. Talking about the event can bring back those uncomfortable feelings but it will ultimately reduce the anxiety you experience. See more..
Face your feelings
Although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening and you might feel out of control, do not fight them or wish them away. The more you are willing to face the feelings that surface, the less intense they will become over time.
Return to the scene of the incident as soon as possible.
Avoidance will only make it more difficult to face the scene later. For example if you were involved in a serious motor accident, get back behind the steering wheel as soon as possible.
Your bodily reaction is normal.
Understand that the symptoms you’re experiencing are a completely normal bodily reaction to extreme stress. See more on the physical effects of anxiety and how stress can lead to depression.
Watch your breathing.
When you think of the event and become anxious, focus on your breathing. Take a short breath in through your nose and exhale deeply through your mouth. This will prevent hyperventilation and a panic attack from developing. Read here for First Aid for Panic Attacks
If you suffer from a loss of appetite, make sure you supplement your diet with multivitamins. Too much sugar, salt, smoking, alcohol, tea, coffee, cola etc reduces your ability to deal with stress. All of these are stimulants to be avoided.
This enables your body to release a special chemical called endorphin into your blood stream. This is a natural pain killer and helps you feel relaxed and happy.
Rest and relaxation is essential. It might take extra effort to make time for having fun or doing something that you enjoy doing even if you don’t feel like it.
Try not to resort to medication as it can delay the reaction. If you are severely traumatized it may be helpful for your doctor to prescribe a short course of sleeping tablets. Feeling the pain, rather than numbing the pain through tranquilizers which only delays healing.
Watch your anger.
Try not to be angry with those around you, but rather feel anger towards those who caused your pain.
Try to use humor. This may be difficult initially. However, when you feel ready it’s a good release.
Be proud of yourself for any small progress you make, and think about how good you will feel when you successfully master your symptoms.