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After a Medical Emergency

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After traumatic events

Traumatic events often cause feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and aggression. Such feelings can follow a medical emergency, whether you are a victim, a responder, or a bystander. It may take time, effort, special strategies, or some help before you feel better.

There are many things you can do to cope with traumatic events, including talking to family, friends, and clergy for support. Consider seeking professional help if you feel sad or depressed for more than two weeks, or if you find yourself unable to take care of responsibilities to your school, family, or job.

After surviving a disaster or act of violence, people may feel dazed or even numb. They may also feel sad, helpless, or anxious. In spite of the tragedy, some people just feel happy to be alive. It is not unusual to have bad memories or dreams. You may avoid places or people that remind you of the disaster. You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or paying attention. Many people have short tempers and get angry easily. These are all normal reactions to stress.

You may have strong feelings right away. Or you may not notice a change until much later, after the crisis is over. Stress can change how you act with your friends and family. It will take time for you to feel better and for your life to return to normal. Allow yourself time to heal.

Take steps to help you feel better

There is no simple fix to make things better right away. But there are actions that can help you, your family, and your community heal. Try to:

  • Follow a normal routine as much as possible.
  • Eat healthy meals. Be careful not to skip meals or to overeat.
  • Exercise and stay active.
  • Help other people in your community as a volunteer. Stay busy.
  • Accept help from family, friends, co-workers, or clergy. Talk about your feelings with them.
  • Limit your time around the sights and sounds of what happened. Don’t dwell on TV, radio, or newspaper reports on the tragedy.

Sometimes the stress can be too much to handle alone. Ask for help if you:

  • Are not able to take care of yourself or dependents.
  • Are not able to do your job.
  • Use alcohol or drugs to get away from your problems.
  • Feel sad or depressed for more than two weeks.
  • Think about suicide.

If you or someone you know is having trouble dealing with the tragedy, ask for help. Talk to a counselor, your doctor, or community organization, such as the (1-800-273-TALK).  See Emergency Support Contacts.

For more information on medical emergencies, see: