A traumatic experience differs from stress or a crisis. A trauma is an experience that is sudden, horrifying and unexpected. During a trauma the person believes that they or others around them will be seriously injured or killed.
A distressing or frightening experience can challenge a person’s sense of security and the predictability of their world. It is very common; in fact it is quite normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have experienced a horrible event. Sometimes the emotional aftershocks or stress reactions appear immediately after the traumatic event, a few hours or a few days later and in some cases, week or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.
The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks, a few months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. With understanding and the support of loved ones the stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance from a counsellor may be necessary.
This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful for the person to manage at that time.
Counselling is designed to lessen the overall impact of a traumatic event and to speed the recovery process itself. It has been shown that people who talk through an incident eat better, sleep better, remain healthier and have less disruption in their home life.