August 25, 2011
Elysa LeBron, LCSW, Clinical Director
Jennifer Newman, PhD, Staff Psychologist
A traumatic event is an overwhelming or uncontrollable experience that can happen to anyone. It involves an actual or perceived threat of death or injury that causes someone to feel intensely horrified or helpless. Some people come to think about the world very differently after experiencing a traumatic event. Many factors can impact a person’s reaction, such as the amount of devastation witnessed and the degree of personal responsibility felt for what happened.
In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, most people will experience some level of traumatic stress symptoms. Some of the more typical symptoms are:
- Nightmares or unwanted daytime images of the event
- Avoidance of thoughts, feelings or reminders of the event
- Emotional numbing
- Social withdrawal or difficulty feeling close to others
- Sleep difficulties
- Anger or irritability
- Jumpiness and/or hypervigilance
With time, however, these symptoms often subside and many people will have a “natural recovery.” For some, these symptoms do not subside and then they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be successfully treated through a variety of “talk therapy” treatments with a trained, licensed clinician. Specifically, cognitive behavioral treatments have been shown to be effective.