Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event often suffer psychological stress related to the incident. In most instances, these are normal reactions to abnormal situations.

Individuals who feel they are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience the following symptoms for more than a month, should consider seeking outside professional assistance:

- Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event;

- Having trouble sleeping or changes in appetite;

- Experiencing anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma;

- Being on the edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert;

- Feeling depressed, sad, and having low energy;

- Experiencing memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma;

- Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities;

- Having difficulty making decisions;

- Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful;

- Feeling emotionally "numb", withdrawn, disconnected or different from others;

- Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness;

- Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones;

- Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma, and avoiding activities, places, or even people that remind you of the event.

Copyright 2002 American Psychological Association

Contact the American Psychological Association for this Victim Resources Help Guide on US 202-336-5800.

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