Emotional Responses to Traumatic Events

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Emotional responses to traumatic events can be strong and hard to manage. Learn how to manage emotions during a traumatic event at

Emotional Responses to Traumatic Events

Tragedy struck Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015. Since the mass shooting that killed 10 and injured nine, many have wondered, "Is it normal for people who aren't directly connected to the event to feel traumatized?" Yes, it can be normal to have strong emotional reactions (despair, anger, fear, anxiety, depression, etc.) to traumatic events.

To be diagnosed with a trauma and stressor-related disorder, one must meet criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5. However, it doesn't take a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder to experience intense reactions to a horrific event, even one that occurs far away.

Managing Emotions During A Traumatic Event

When tragedy occurs, it's helpful to remember that feelings are just feelings. Allow them to happen, and then try some reality testing: check with yourself or someone else to see just how realistic your thoughts and emotions are. Then, grounded in your reality, put your feelings in perspective. It can be healthy, too, to limit your exposure to the event by restricting your time in front of news and social media. It's normal to react strongly to a traumatic event. For safeguarding your mental health, identify what's happening and maintain a healthy balance; empathize without getting lost in the traumatic emotions.

Related Articles Dealing with Emotional Responses to Traumatic Events

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APA Reference
(2015, October 8). Emotional Responses to Traumatic Events , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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