Being a survivor of a traumatic event can be highly distressing and can lead to many health and social problems. Whatever the type of traumatic event, those affected can be many and wide-spread. In many countries, treatment and therapy is available for traumatic event survivors, but this cannot immediately compensate someone who has lived through such a traumatic experience.
Many people have lived through a stressful event at some time in their lives. An event that causes a high level of stress can also be termed a traumatic event.
Traumatic events are characterised by a sense of shock, powerlessness, severe
injury, or the risk of severe injury or fatality. Traumatic events can lead to a great deal of distress in the survivors (CDC).
Examples of traumatic events can include, among others: Here are some examples of traumatic events: community violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, natural disasters, car accidents, sudden death of a close friend or family member, serious injury, major surgery, violence and war (Kelty).
Using natural traumatic events as an example, it is easy to see why survivors can be so affected following the event. Natural events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes, are solid reminders of how defenseless people are to the dominant unpredicted powers of nature. Whatever the type of loss, for example a home, a friend of family member, unexpected traumatic events can destroy an individual’s world and destroy their usual feeling of safety and strength (Medical Wellness Archives).
Overwhelming, natural disturbance can considerably influence an individuals’ holistic health. The consequences of a natural trauma can last a long time. Traumatic events touch people who have been directly affected by injury or loss: these people are termed primary survivors (Medical). The events can also touch people indirectly, those who have observed the events but not been involved, either in person or on television: these people are termed secondary survivors (Medical). Furthermore rescue workers, emergency staff, therapists, friends and family of individuals who were involved, can also be affected by the event as secondary survivors (Medical).
An individual’s reaction to a traumatic event can differ. Reactions contain feelings of terror, unhappiness and depression. Physical and behavioural reactions such as nausea, giddiness, and deviations in appetite are common, as well as trouble with sleeping and pulling out of everyday happenings (CDC).
The majority of survivors testify that they feel better inside of three months following the traumatic event. If the negative issues worsen or go on for longer than a month following the traumatic event, the individual could be suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (CDC).
There are many centres and hospitals dedicated to helping people with PTSD. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the treatment of survivors in the serious consequences of traumatic events is multifaceted: “The individual’s needs may be very urgent, secondary stressors may still be operating, expressions of distress are volatile and highly reactive to external realities, and symptoms expressed may not reflect psychopathology” (Department).
There is much help available for survivors of traumatic events, in many parts of the world. However, living through the event and the aftermath is something that no-one would wish to do. Sadly, most people will witness a traumatic event at some point in their lives, especially now that humans are living longer, travelling more, and our planet is changing.
CDC Injury Prevention. “Coping with a Traumatic Event.” 2012. Web. 18 April 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/masstrauma/factsheets/public/coping.pdf
Kelty Mental Health. “Examples of Traumatic Events.” 2013. Web. 18 April 2013. http://keltymentalhealth.ca/faq/what-are-some-examples-traumatic-events-can-lead- ptsd