Coping with Trauma

The Psychological Fallout: What’s “normal”? How to cope?

Traumatic events cause a wide range of psychological reactions. For example, surveys conducted in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks suggest that a high percentage of Americans have experienced some symptoms of depression, particularly sleep disturbance and concentration difficulties, as well as increased anxiety. Reactions to traumatic events are influenced by a variety of factors including temperament, learned coping strategies, the presence and intensity of past psychological trauma, and the extent to which the individual had been directly affected by the event.

While there is no "correct" way to feel or respond, its important to remember that over a period or weeks following a traumatic event, you may experience certain, perhaps unfamiliar, "acute stress reactions" that are quite normal, even expected. These include:

In addition, a period of mild to moderate depression is sometimes experienced following exposure to a stressful event or tragic loss.
Again, these are normal reactions, and although painful, are part of the process of recovering from a loss or critical incident stress. While there is little anyone can do to take away these uncomfortable feelings, there are several things you can do to speed up the recovery process.