Recognizing and Managing Trauma: A Guide for Witnesses and Those Affected

Recognizing and Managing Trauma: A Guide for Witnesses and Those Affected

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, it’s not uncommon for us to witness or be indirectly affected by traumatic events. Whether it’s through the news, social media, or in person, exposure to traumatic incidents can take a toll on our mental health. This article aims to shed light on recognizing and managing trauma, even if you’re only a witness to it, and provide guidance on how to handle and manage it for yourself and others.

Recognizing Trauma

Trauma can manifest in various ways, and it’s essential to recognize the signs in ourselves and those around us. Some common indicators of trauma include:

  1. Emotional reactions: Feelings of sadness, anger, fear, or numbness may occur in response to a traumatic event. These emotions can be overwhelming and may interfere with daily life.
  2. Intrusive thoughts or memories: Traumatic events can lead to recurring, unwanted thoughts or memories, causing distress and making it difficult to focus on the present.
  3. Avoidance: A person affected by trauma may avoid situations, places, or people that remind them of the event.
  4. Changes in behavior or mood: Trauma can lead to alterations in a person’s behavior or mood, such as irritability, agitation, or withdrawal from social activities.
  5. Physical symptoms: Some individuals may experience physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or difficulty sleeping after a traumatic event.

Handling and Managing Trauma

  1. If you or someone you know is affected by trauma, here are some steps to help manage it:
  2. Seek professional help: Mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors, can provide support and guidance in coping with trauma. Early intervention can improve the prognosis and reduce the risk of developing serious mental health conditions.
  3. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. Prioritize sleep, eat a balanced diet, and stay connected with loved ones for emotional support.
  4. Create a safe space: Establish an environment where individuals affected by trauma can express their feelings and emotions without fear of judgment or criticism.
  5. Encourage open communication: Encourage those affected by trauma to talk about their experiences and feelings with trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals.
  6. Participate in support groups: Support groups can provide a sense of community and understanding, allowing individuals to share their experiences and learn from others who have experienced similar situations.

Being Aware and Compassionate

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, it’s crucial to remember that everyone processes and copes with trauma differently. Acknowledging and validating the feelings of those affected is vital in fostering a supportive and compassionate environment. Remember that no one is promised another moment, so make the most of the time you have with those you care about by providing understanding, compassion, and support.

Conclusion to Recognizing and Managing Trauma

Recognizing and managing trauma is essential for maintaining mental health and fostering resilience in the face of adversity. By being aware of the signs of trauma and providing support to those affected, we can help create a more empathetic and caring society. Whether you’re directly impacted by a traumatic event or a witness to it, remember that your mental health matters, and seeking help when needed is a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Source: Lisa Bonta Sumii, LCSW, CSW

Lisa is a psychotherapist and mental performance consultant to high-performing athletes at the youth, collegiate, Olympic-hopeful, and professional levels. She is the first-ever Mental Health & Performance Coach for the Oakland Roots SC, a men’s professional soccer team, in the USL. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of AthMindset, a diverse team of licensed mental health clinicians and mental performance consultants, who serve alongside her.

Source: Podcast Episode | Coping With Emotions After Witnessing the Damar Hamlin Event