Updated: Jun 6, 2020
What Is Trauma? Trauma is the experience of severe psychological distress following any terrible or life-threatening event. Sufferers may develop emotional disturbances such as extreme anxiety, anger, sadness, survivor’s guilt, or PTSD. They may experience ongoing problems with sleep or physical pain, encounter turbulence in their personal and professional relationships, and feel a diminished sense of self-worth due to the overwhelming amount of stress. Although the instigating event may overpower coping resources available at the time, it is nevertheless possible to develop healthy ways of coping with the experience and diminishing its effects. Research on trauma identifies several healthy ways of coping, such as avoiding alcohol and drugs, seeing loved ones regularly, exercising, sleeping, and paying attention to self-care. How to Cope with Trauma Traumatic experiences often arouse strong, disturbing feelings that may or may not abate on their own. In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, it is common to experience shock or denial. A person may undergo a range of emotional reactions, such as fear, anger, guilt, and shame. Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability are also common. Some may experience flashbacks and other signs of PTSD. Traumatic memories fade naturally with time. Persistence of symptoms is a signal that professional help is needed.