Coping with Trauma Q&A

What is a traumatic experience?

A traumatic event is one where you are in danger, perhaps where there is threat to life or safety.

It can happen through many scenarios, including an accident, assault, natural disaster, war, illness or abuse. It can also be an event where you witness something traumatic happening to others or learn about it happening to a loved one.

How do you feel after a traumatic experience?

Afterwards, it’s common to experience a range of reactions, and you may:

  • Experience overwhelming emotions, such as anger, fear and despair
  • Have a flashback, intrusive memories or wake from a nightmare
  • Re-experience feelings in your body from the time of the trauma
  • Feel unreal or spaced out
  • Want to avoid using other coping strategies that might have harmful consequences, such as drinking alcohol and using drugs

How long do these experiences last?

These reactions are completely normal and might fade on their own a few weeks after the trauma, particularly when you have support from your loved ones or close friends.

But if any of these reactions continue and start to affect how you live your life, you can get support from therapists and psychologists in the NHS. They can help you to recover and feel better.

What should I do if the experiences don’t fade away after 4 weeks?

This happens for many people, and it is not unusual. It is important to understand that there are trauma experts who can help you to feel better, and they will understand just how you are feeling and what can help.

Some of the films linked to the workbook show what seeing a therapist is actually like.

Find out what is in your area here

What should I do if I don’t feel safe?

Help is available.

If you need urgent help and you’re already in touch with your Community Mental Health Team, please contact them .

You can also visit Good Thinking for other support contacts, as well as NHS 111

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This information will help us develop more personalised support for Londoners, and improve our service to all users. Please see our terms and conditions for more information.