How to Cope With a Traumatic Experience

how to manage PTSD

Trauma is an emotional response to an event that is deeply distressing and disturbing. A person who is traumatized often feels shocked and helpless immediately after the event and may have difficulty processing what just happened. Trauma can also have negative long term effects on an individual’s well-being. When people experience trauma they may become “stuck” in the past and find it difficult to disassociate themselves from the event long after it happened.  

A few situations that may cause trauma include living in a war zone, experiencing sexual assault, or being involved in a car accident. It is not uncommon for a person who has just been through a traumatic event to feel a range of emotions such as:

  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Numbness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Confusion
  • Hopelessness

While some individuals resort to unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs in an effort to deal with trauma, there are healthy ways to cope. A few helpful suggestions are mentioned below.

Improve Your Physical Health

Although trauma may contribute to the onset of several emotional and psychological issues, it is important to note that physical symptoms may also develop. Some of the physical symptoms of trauma include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Having a racing heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating

Of course, a traumatic event such as a car accident can also cause more serious physical injuries such as broken bones, dislocated joints, burns, abrasions, and lacerations. Working with qualified healthcare professionals and managing your medical expenses after an auto accident are very important. For example, you may need emergency medical care as quickly as possible after a car crash. However, you may choose to work with a licensed chiropractor for long term physical issues long after the accident occurred.

Talk About The Experience

One of the most effective coping strategies is talking about your traumatic experience. Talking about trauma helps you to unpack what happened and see things from a new perspective. It can be very difficult to discuss what you have been through so it is crucial that you open up to someone you trust who will also listen attentively to what you have to say. This person must be mentally and emotionally mature enough to handle hearing about your experience without judging you. 

See A Therapist

One of the most common mental health issues associated with trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD often relive the traumatic experience through flashbacks and nightmares. They may also struggle with feelings of guilt, isolation, and irritability. 

A licensed therapist can help a person with PTSD to express his thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event and process them in a constructive way. If the individual finds it difficult to speak about the event, the therapist may ask him to write down any troubling thoughts and emotions he has. Once the therapist has a good idea of what the individual is going through, he may be able to help his client to readjust his thinking. The therapist will also help his client to develop healthy coping strategies to manage future triggers.

Set Boundaries

When you have been through trauma it’s normal for you to feel more sensitive than usual and this makes setting boundaries more difficult. Boundary issues may cause problems in your intimate relationship and may impact people around you who want to help but are not sure what to do. Talk with your loved ones about the best ways they can help you to regain your physical, mental, and emotional health. It may also be beneficial to outline your treatment preferences, your privacy concerns, and the importance of working on your recovery at a pace that is comfortable for you.

Find The Right Support Group

Support groups provide an outlet for you to talk about your feelings and receive helpful advice. As these groups typically consist of people with issues that are similar to yours, it will provide a constant reminder that you are not alone in your fight. Many support groups for trauma survivors are available online and some offer an emergency helpline that you can call 24/7. By taking advantage of these and other mental health resources, you may be able to recover from your traumatic experience and live a long and happy life.