Reactions to Trauma

/Reactions to Trauma
Reactions to Trauma2019-01-24T15:16:18+00:00

What is trauma?

Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms our ability to cope and makes us feel helpless.  Someone experiences trauma if they experience or witness: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence.

What kind of reactions do people have to trauma?

When a person has experienced a shocking, unexpected or traumatic incident they are likely to develop deep emotional and physical shock or stress. These reactions are normal, but will be very unique, personal and individual.

The most common reactions to trauma are:

  • Freeze or flop -Not able to move
  • (Be)friend – trying to make the situation less dangerous by doing what the perpetrator wants

Why do people have these reactions?

Your mind will choose the reaction that is most likely to lead to survival and the least harm. It doesn’t think about how you will feel after.

If there is a safe outcome (survival), the brain learns to use that reaction again.

How do people feel after the trauma?

If we have experienced a traumatic event it can impact on us in different ways after the event has stopped.   Below are some typical reactions that people can experience after a trauma.

If you have experienced trauma and want to talk about how it has affected you there is support available, trauma impacts can be reduced by talking to people who understand trauma, through self care, and through specialist trauma counselling. We are here if you want to talk, details for our helpline are here.


  • Tension in the muscles
  • Tiredness & exhaustion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Little desire to do anything
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Dizzy spells/funny turns
  • Unsteady breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Increased, rapid heartbeat
  • Other physical pains


  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Insecurity
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares
  • Poor memory
  • Loss in self-confidence or concentration


  • Increased smoking and/or drinking
  • Workaholism, or not turning up to work
  • Personal neglect
  • Development of habits
  • Nail biting
  • Impulsiveness
  • Twitches, tapping fingers, etc.
  • Non-stop talking
  • Changes in eating patterns
Want to talk?

Women and girls

0808 801 0456

Monday & Friday
11.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6.00pm – 8:30pm

Men and boys

0808 801 0464

Monday 11.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday 6.00pm – 8:30pm

Recent Posts
Leave this site now