Most people experience some form of emotional or cognitive symptoms after trauma. But, just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to cope with.
Some common emotional effects of trauma are fear, numbness or detachment, heightened emotional reactivity, depression, guilt, and irritability. Some common cognitive effects include difficulties concentrating or remembering things, nightmares, disorientation, or intrusive thoughts.
Symptoms manifest differently across people. Sometimes they can cause substantial distress and interference with your ability to function day-to-day. Sometimes, symptoms are mild or barely noticeable symptoms.
There is no right or wrong way to be affected by trauma, just like there is no right or wrong way to heal after trauma. It can be overwhelming and even scary to feel such intense emotions, but remember that you are not alone in feeling any of these things.
When you’ve been sad, anxious, or angry in the past, what has helped you feel better? Journaling, creating art, or writing can help to express difficult feelings. Getting adequate sleep, establishing a routine, eating enough, and finding ways to be physically active can also improve symptoms.
Consider reaching out to friends, family, and/or loved ones for support. You don’t have to disclose your trauma if you are uncomfortable with that. It’s okay to just spend time with people who support and care about you.
Sometimes you might need extra support in more tangible ways. Asking for help around your living space or requesting extensions on deadlines can lessen your stress load, and help facilitate recovery.
When coping with the impacts of trauma, be kind to yourself throughout the process. How you feel right now, is not likely how you will feel forever. Often, these symptoms will decrease naturally over time with patience and persistence.
If you notice your symptoms are not improving or that you need help coping with them, you might consider reaching out to a mental health professional. However this choice is up to you if you feel comfortable and ready.
Just because these experiences are common, does not mean you should suffer in silence. It is never a sign of weakness to seek help. Remember that you are in control of your recovery and how you choose to cope is up to you.