Understanding Trauma

Trauma as the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event. Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. Long after the traumatic event occurs, people with trauma can often feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness, and intense fear.

As the anniversary of a disaster or traumatic event approaches, many (though, not all) survivors report a return of restlessness and fear. This is called the “anniversary reaction” and can involve several days or even weeks of anxiety, anger, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, or fear. Some may be troubled because they did not expect and do not understand their reaction. Although these thoughts, feelings, and reactions can be very upsetting, it helps to understand that it is normal to have strong reactions to a disaster or traumatic event and its devastation many months later.

Recovery from a disaster or traumatic event takes time, and it requires rebuilding on many levels – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. However, with patience, understanding, and support from family members, friends, and your community you can emerge even stronger than before.

Unfortunately, there are some among us who require more. If you feel you are one of those people or know of someone else who might be, emergency and crisis resources in Toronto include:

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