What is trauma?

If you are involved or witness a traumatic event, it is common to feel distressed, upset or confused afterwards. These feelings may not emerge straight away. These feelings become a problem, and require you to seek help, when they stop you leading your life as you want to.

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event has difficulties, but it is important to remember to seek help if you do.

  • Serious accident such as car crash 
  • An event where you fear your life 
  • Physical and/ or sexual assault 
  • Abuse in childhood 
  • Extreme violence or seeing people hurt
  • A natural disaster such as flood, or earthquake

It is important to remember that experiencing trauma is not your fault. Neither are the emotions you may feel afterwards. You can help change these feelings through coping strategies, self-care and treatment. 

Re-living the trauma

  • Vivid flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts and images 
  • Nightmares
  • Distress at reminders of the trauma 
  • Pain
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shaking 

Alertness, feeling on edge

  • Easily upset or angry 
  • Extreme alertness 
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Easily startled 

Avoiding feelings or memories

  • Keeping busy
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma 
  • Feeling numb
  • Unable to express affection
  • Using drugs / alcohol 

Remember that experiencing trauma is not your fault. Neither are the emotions you may feel afterwards. 

  • Coping strategies 
  • Self-care 
  • Treatment 

Coping strategies

  • Try breathing exercises; or just focus on your breathing 
  • Go for a walk or a run
  • Listen to music
  • Distract yourself with something comforting 
  • Make a note of the positive thoughts you have 
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Talk to people with similar experiences
  • Give yourself time 


  • Eat healthily and take regular exercise 
  • Have a structured daily routine
  • Find supportive relationships
  • Recognise when you are becoming unwell 


  • CBT helps you understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It might help you stop avoiding things, and help you cope with other symptoms.
  • Stress Management helps you develop skills such as relaxation, assertiveness and positive self-talk Medication can also help; speak to your GP if you think this could help you.