Experiencing a traumatic event can have a significant impact on family, social, and work life. It is normal to feel a range of strong emotions after trauma, but if emotions remain intense and are causing problems, it is a good idea to seek some help.
People can experience a range of strong emotional reactions after a traumatic event. It’s important to remember that there is no ‘right’ or expected way to respond, and people can react in many different ways.
A person might become irritable with others, particularly family members. While anger is a common reaction to trauma, if a person continues to feel angrier than usual a couple of weeks after the trauma, this can seriously impact on their relationships and family life.
Grief is also common after trauma and includes a wide range of feelings, thoughts and behaviours that are reactions to an experience of loss. While we normally think of grief as being related to the loss of a loved one, the loss might be something such as one’s health or home. Despair or loneliness are other common feelings following loss.
Sometimes feelings can become so intense or distressing that the person finds it difficult to manage. If emotions are overwhelming and don’t improve over time, they can impact on a person’s ability to work, on their relationships with others, and their ability to function in their day-to-day life. If emotions remain intense and are causing problems, this could mean that a mental health problem is developing. If this is happening, it is a good idea to see a GP for advice, and potentially treatment.
Following a traumatic event, the emotional distress experienced can make it difficult to relate to other people. This might mean that a person withdraws from family and friends, stops attending social activities, becomes overprotective, or has difficulty expressing or managing emotions.
Returning to work after a traumatic event can be difficult, but getting back to your normal routine will help you to feel your life is getting back on track. A health practitioner can provide information on where to get practical support. This can be important even if the problem seems mild. It is generally easier to prevent a problem getting worse than trying to manage it once it is having a significant impact on your life.