Shock and denial are typical responses to traumatic events and disasters, especially in the first few days afterward. Both shock and denial are normal protective reactions.
Concussion is a sudden and often intense disturbance that affects your emotional state, and can make you feel lightheaded or confused. Denial is not acknowledging that something very stressful has happened, or not fully acknowledging the intensity of the event. You might even feel temporarily paralyzed or disconnected from life. As the initial shock subsides, reactions may vary according to the person affected. However, these are the normal responses to a traumatic event, and now with Covid pandemics, this aftermath is very likely to be happening.
Your feelings become intense and sometimes unpredictable. You may become more irritable than usual, and your mood may change in unprecedented ways. You may feel anxious or nervous, and even depressed. Trauma affects thought and behaviour patterns. You can have vivid and repeated memories of the event. These flashbacks can occur for no apparent reason, and can cause physical reactions such as fast heartbeat or sweating. You may also have trouble concentrating or making decisions, or feel confused more easily. In addition, sleeping and eating patterns can be altered.
Recurrent emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as the month or year, can trigger unpleasant memories of the traumatic experience. These “triggers” may be accompanied by fear of a repeat of the stressful event. Interpersonal relationships are often affected. Greater conflicts are generalized, such as more frequent discussions with family and co-workers.
On the other hand, you may experience distancing or isolation, and refusal of usual activities. Physical symptoms can accompany extreme stress. For example, headaches, nausea, and chest pains that may need medical attention. Also, pre-existing disorders can be worsened by stress.
How can I help myself and my family?
There are several steps that you can take to help restore emotional well-being and a sense of control after a disaster or other traumatic experience, such as the following:
- Take time to heal.
- Be aware that it can be a difficult period in your life.
- Take time to mourn the losses you have suffered.
- Try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
Ask for help from those closest to you who can listen and show solidarity with your situation. Communicate your experience in ways that are comfortable for you, such as talking with close friends or family, or writing on the subject in a journal.
Inquire about the existence of local support groups, often available to those affected by natural disasters, or to women who have been victims of rape. These groups can be especially helpful for your needs and also people with limited personal support systems. Try to find groups led by adequately trained and experienced professionals. The group discussion can help those affected by trauma realize that similar reactions and emotions are often experienced by others in the same circumstances.
Adopt healthy behaviors to your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you have trouble sleeping, you may find some relief with relaxation techniques.
Avoid alcohol and drug use in trauma recovery
Create or reestablish routines like eating at regular times and following a sports program. Take a break from the demands of everyday life by engaging in hobbies or other enjoyable activities.
If possible, avoid making important decisions in your life such as changing careers or jobs, as these activities tend to be highly stressful.
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