Emotional reactions, distress and behaviour

Emotional reactions to trauma

After a traumatic event it is quite common to experience a whole host of different and strong emotions. There is no right and wrong way to feel.  

In the immediate aftermath of a trauma, people affected can sometimes benefit from 'psychological first aid' to help them process their feelings and experiences in a healing way.  This pamphlet has been issued by NHS England to help people involved in a major incident understand and deal with some typical emotional reactions, including reactions of children.

The pamphlet also talks about and lists the symptoms of an extreme and more long lasting form of stress called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A brief description of PTSD and links to support services can also be found here.

We all encounter stress in our everyday lives, so for many of us it’s a familiar feeling. But after a traumatic accident, stress can become a constant presence in your life rather than an occasional visitor. Often after trauma we are so focussed on our recovery during our hospital stay that we may not think about the difficulties we might face once we leave, but for many this can be where the stress begins to build, and this can be true no matter the severity or type of injuries you sustained. Some people may believe for example that an individual who has been paralysed may suffer a more stressful time than someone with a broken leg, but in reality stress is a very personal experience and affects individuals in very unique ways depending on things such as their past experiences, available support and environment as well as the type of accident they had.

It's important not to give up hope, and there are organisations in the community that can provide advice and support to help you and your loved ones cope with mental and emotional problems as you recover.  A selection have been listed in the Useful Organisations page.