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How a traumatic event can affect you

On behalf of PHN, we are deeply saddened by the recent tragic events across our country. These types of tragedies can often cause traumatic responses. Traumatic events can bring about unusually strong emotions like anger and disbelief. These types of reactions may affect one’s ability to perform daily life activities.

Recognizing normal and natural reactions to traumatic situations is the first step toward dealing with the personal consequences of trauma. The following information will help you understand the reactions you may be having now and in the coming days and weeks, as well as provide you with helpful suggestions to cope with tragedy or loss.

Different stages of coping

• Immediately after the experience, you are likely to be in shock, experiencing numbness and feeling out of touch with reality.
• You may become fearful and feel exhausted. This may last a few days or up to a week.
• After a while, you may believe you have mastered your feelings, but later find that the same early emotions keep returning from time to time. Some people describe this feeling as though they are on an emotional roller-coaster. Gradually, feelings of fear decrease in intensity and return less frequently.

Common Reactions

  • Feeling exhausted for no particular reason.
  • Difficult or broken sleep patterns.
  • Lack of energy for normal activities.
  • Difficulty concentrating on or remember everyday tasks.
  • Feeling that the normal demands of work and home are overwhelming so you have time to collect your thoughts.
  • Easily irritated by little things, such as noise.
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs, particularly in reaction to difficult emotions or for help in falling asleep.

Learning to Cope

  • Engage in activities you enjoy.
  • Spend time with good friends and loved ones.
  • Eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise regularly and listen to your body’s needs.
  • Refrain from using cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
  • Talk to others who have experienced a similar event.
  • Reach out to spiritual leaders and doctors who can also provide good sources of support.
  • Talk about your feelings with family and friends and share the above information with them so they can also understand your experience.
  • Talk to others who experienced the event as they may have similar feelings and insight.


If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

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