what is trauma

Trauma is stated to affect 1 in 3 adults in their lifetime. Not all cases of trauma are the same, and neither are the reactions of individuals to a traumatic experience, even if they have experienced the same event as another person. 


What is Trauma?


Described as a severe and lasting reaction caused by an extremely upsetting experience, trauma is the response to a serious incident. The incident has or had the potential to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to a person, or a person close to them. The event can have long-lasting effects on a person, and while reactions to a traumatic event are normal, some struggle to carry on with their lives, as they did before. 


What events are considered traumatic?


Traumatic experiences are where the person or someone close to them encounters any experience where they are at risk of serious harm or even death. Traumatic experiences include: 


  • Car accidents 
  • Rape 
  • Being incarcerated 
  • Violence e.g. being attacked by another with or without a weapon 
  • Prolonged abuse 
  • Natural disasters e.g. tsunami, flooding, earthquake 
  • Serious illness 
  • War 
  • Terrorism 
  • Witnessing a death 


What are the effects of trauma?


For a person who has experienced a traumatic event, they may feel physically threatened, or extremely frightened, even though the event has finished and they are now safe. 


Short term 


The initial effects of a traumatic experience may include increased heart rate, sweating, and reduction in appetite, there will be a variety of physical symptoms. This reaction to trauma is completely normal and is the body’s way of responding, whether that be fight or flight.  

Emotionally people may feel anger, sadness, guilt, denial, and shock. But as time goes on, these physical and emotional feelings should decrease until they do not experience these effects. 


Long term (more than 6 weeks after the event)


If feelings and emotions carry on for an extended period, this could be classed as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This can include experiencing flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, inability to sleep, avoiding certain places associated with the traumatic experience, and even substance misuse. 


What to do after experiencing a traumatic event


Look after yourself, and take some time off, whether this is from work or school. It’s important to process what has happened, ensuring to stay away from anything which could exacerbate the situation e.g. alcohol, and try and maintain a healthy diet 

Ask for support. This could be from friends or family, or both. But surrounding yourself with those you are close with, will help you to feel protected and safe. These people are also great for confiding in, should you wish. For some, vocalising thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event will help with processing it all. But for some, it’s simply about doing this alone, but knowing they have support 

Get professional help. Speaking to someone who knows how to help those who are feeling the effects of a traumatic event can help. Whether you have noticed the feelings yourself, or whether someone close to you is concerned, reach out to someone who can provide this professional help. 


Concerned about someone at work?


Do you know someone who has recently experienced a traumatic event, and do you feel as thorough they are experiencing long-term effects? Our management referrals are designed to assess whether a person is well enough to remain at work and continue doing their job. But also, to support and provide the right support on an individual basis. Completed by either our Occupation Health Physicians or our Occupational Health Advisors, the referral will provide advice on what steps should be taken. 

Get in touch with us via email at website@acornoh.co.uk or call us on 01260 277797 for more information about our Occupational health services.

Want to know more about the Occupational Health services we provide at Acorn, and how they could benefit your business and your employees? Please get in touch.