Trauma reactions

It is normal to have a reaction after experiencing a serious incident. We recommend not being alone immediately afterwards and speaking with others about the experience.

About your visit

When you have experienced a serious incident, it is normal to have a reaction. We recommend not being alone or isolating yourself immediately afterwards.
It can take a long time to process a serious incident. The extent of the reaction and how long it lasts is different from person to person.

When you get home

It is normal to experience a reaction after a serious incident

After a serious incident, it is normal for your thoughts to center on the experience. It can affect your body and mood.

The most common reactions are:

  • mood swings where you are easily moved to tears or become angry quickly
  • trouble sleeping
  • nightmares
  • anxiety, often accompanied by trembling, sweating or palpitations
  • a sense of surrealness or emptiness
  • feeling guilty
  • fatigue
  • decreased appetite
  • headaches
  • respiratory problems
  • reduced sex drive.

Speak with others about your experience

It is a good idea to talk to others about what happened in order to process the experience and begin to move on. Repeat your story over and over again. It may also help to write it down in a diary or letter.

If possible, speak to other people who were involved in the same event and discuss what their reactions have been.

Contact your general practitioner if your reactions to the incident do not subside

In time, you will stop focusing on the incident. However, if your reactions last a long time or impact your daily life, you should contact your general practitioner and possibly get a referral to a psychologist.

Support your child if your child has experienced a serious incident

Children react very differently to traumatic events depending on their age, the reactions of their caregivers and community, etc.

It is important that you speak succinctly and clearly with your child about what happened and what is going to happen. Your child will need increased consolation and to be around you or other adults that they know well.

Inform your child’s teachers or preschool teachers about what has happened and ensure that their friends are notified and have the opportunity to talk openly about the incident.

Keep an eye on your child and seek help if necessary

You cannot always tell how your child is feeling or what they are thinking, and your child may not be able to verbalize it. This is why you should monitor your child and their reactions closely after a traumatic incident. Your child may:

  • have anxiety attacks
  • experience mood swings
  • become irritable
  • feel sad
  • change behaviour
  • become withdrawn
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • have trouble sleeping
  • have stomach aches or headaches
  • feel guilty about what happened.

Speak with your child’s general practitioner, the school psychologist or another professional if you need support and guidance.

Worth knowing

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