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What Is Traumatic Stress (download)?

Traumatic stress

  • Traumatic events are shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threaten death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.
  • Reactions to traumatic events vary considerably, ranging from relatively mild creating minor disruptions in the person's life to severe and debilitating.
  • Acute Stress Disorder And Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are mental health diagnoses associated with traumatic stress reactions.
  • Other difficulties can co-occur with mental health symptoms, including physical health problems and changes in beliefs about safety.

What can be helpful after trauma?

  • Connecting to natural support systems (friends, family) and taking care of basic needs.

How to decide whether you need help

  • For many people, natural coping allows the reactions to gradually diminish.
  • When disturbing symptoms persist or worsen it may be useful to seek professional help.
  • If attempts to cope lead to unhealthy or unhelpful outcomes (e.g. alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends and family), it may be useful to seek professional help.

Treatment options

  • Evidence-based (well researched) psychotherapy and medications are available.
  • There are many options for psychotherapy format (individual, groups) and approach.
  • No single treatment is effective for everyone and it may take time to find the right treatment fit.

Where to go for help

  • It is important to find someone with experience in treating people affected by traumatic stress.
  • A family doctor, local clergy, local mental health association, or health insurance carrier may be able to assist in the search for help.