Brisbane City Psychologists Advice Trauma

Advice for Coping with Trauma

by Clinical Psychologist Marie Simpson

Life is unpredictable and, at times, we or someone close to us may experience a highly stressful or traumatic event.

Traumatic events could include experiencing violence or workplace bullying, being involved in a car accident or even an armed hold-up. Although there are individual differences in terms of how people respond, an experience like this can lead us to experience many different reactions. This is because it overwhelms our usual coping mechanisms for a period of time. 

Reactions you may notice after a traumatic event

  • Avoiding situations in order to avoid remembering the event

  • Dreams or nightmares

  • Sadness and depression

  • Finding it difficult to concentrate or make decisions

  • Withdrawing from interactions with others

  • Reduced libido, and declining interest in relationships

  • Increased consumption of alcohol or other substances

  • Reduced motivation at work.

  • Feeling numb initially, and perhaps even detached from others

  • A sense of disbelief at what has happened

  • Difficulty accepting the reality of what has occurred

  • A high level of anxiety, or fear – for your own safety, or the safety of family members

  • Guilt at not having been able to help others (termed ‘survivor guilt’)

  • Anger and irritability

  • Being easily startled

  • Frequent thoughts or images of the event, and trying to make sense of it