Common Reactions After Trauma

From the National Center for PTSD:

After going through a trauma, survivors often say that their first feeling is relief to be alive. This may be followed by stress, fear, and anger. Trauma survivors may also find they are unable to stop thinking about what happened. Many survivors will show a high level of arousal, which causes them to react strongly to sounds and sights around them. The time it takes for someone to learn to manage a trauma varies considerably. However, if you find that you are struggling with sleeping, feeling very depressed, are extremely anxious, jittery, having nightmares, and wanting to avoid anything related to the trauma more than 30 days after the trauma you should consider talking to a professional trauma therapist. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or hurting someone else seek professional help immediately. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Most people have some kind of stress reaction after a trauma. Having such a reaction has nothing to do with personal weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days a few weeks or even a few months. For most people, if symptoms occur, they will slowly decrease over time. If your reactions are getting worse over time you should consider talking to a professional trauma therapist.

More information describing common reactions to trauma may be found at the National Center for PTSD Public Information site:

Impact phase

Information about Specific Trauma-Related Issues

Electronic pamphlets and fact sheets are available from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies that may provide more specific information regarding your trauma-related issue.

  • Trauma Victim Information for Adult Victims of Trauma
  • When a Friend or Loved One Has Been Traumatized
  • Mass Disasters, Trauma, and Loss
  • Trauma and Relationships
  • Traumatic Stress and Substance Abuse Problems
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Children and Trauma
  • Remembering Childhood Trauma