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Trauma and PTSD

Exposure to tragic and devastating experiences—such as physical or sexual assault, car accidents or natural disasters, robbery or war—can cause extreme feelings of helplessness, horror and fear. 

    • Victims of complex trauma could have been directly affected as survivors, rescue workers or firsthand witnesses; or indirectly affected as friends and relatives of victims or via the media. 
    • International surveys show that traumatic experiences are common across the world. While many people recover within a short period of time, there are those who endure lasting symptoms, which can disrupt their lives.

Recent research has advanced understanding of post-traumatic factors that lead people either to cope well or to be at increased risk for physical or mental health problems. Fortunately, for most people, responses to trauma are normal and expected, and they can return to normal life in about a month—their fear, anxiety and painful memories gradually decreasing over time. 

For others, however, treatment is necessary to overcome intense responses shock and denial that can persist and can be followed by longer term reactions of unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and physical symptoms. 

Those more likely to develop severe symptoms may:

    • Have an existing mental health condition
    • Face ongoing stress 
    • Have had traumatic experiences in the past 
    • Lack support from family and friends 

Responses can be immediate or delayed, brief or prolonged, and include:

    • Feeling anxious, sad, angry
    • Trouble concentrating and sleeping
    • Continually thinking about what happened

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