The Psychological Impact Of Sudden Catastrophic Life Events
Contemplating what might be the subject of my latest blog post, I recalled my involvement in one of those classic sudden, traumatic events that can affect any of us on occasion: a car accident.
Thankfully, my trauma in this instance was purely psychological. No one – myself included - came to physical harm but I was left feeling severely shaken for several weeks.
My remembrance of this incident, its effect on me and the relief it gave me to share my experience with and be supported by my therapist in the aftermath, got me thinking about how other people respond to such completely unexpected and hugely stressful events.
What Are The Common Responses To Catastrophes?
Following a catastrophe such as an accident, death, job or relationship loss, people often feel stunned, disorientated and unable to process the distressing information about what has just happened.
The thoughts and behaviours that people may experience are many and varied: they can include intense and unpredictable feelings of anxiety, nervousness or grief and they may be accompanied by vivid memories of the event recurring for no apparent reason. These may lead to the physical reactions of sweating and rapid heartbeat and/or emotional reactions such as an apparent total lack of self-confidence.
Many sufferers of sudden, traumatic events become especially anxious in response to environmental stimuli such as loud noises, sirens or burning smells, perhaps fearing a repetition of the stressful event. Interpersonal relationships can also become strained, and you may become withdrawn or disengaged from your usual social activities.
Advice On How To Cope
Each and every person’s recovery from sudden, traumatic and even tragic events is different but the good news is that prolonged distress is far from the norm. Most people are resilient and do recover over time.
There are various steps that you can take to rebuild your emotional well-being and regain a sense of control in the aftermath of a catastrophe. These include allowing yourself time to adjust, asking for support from people who care about you and expressing how you feel to those you trust in whatever ways feel comfortable to you.
One of those ways may be to discuss your feelings with someone who is specifically qualified to provide Psychotherapy For Stress – such as myself, Tamar Posner. Get in touch with me today to arrange an initial no-obligation consultation, so that we can explore how I could assist you to recover from your trauma.
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