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The Warning Signs of Trauma-Related Stress

January 31, 1994|SHARI ROAN

People who have experienced a traumatic event often suffer psychological stress, which leads them to use poor judgment and engage in risky behavior--such as entering unsafe buildings to retrieve personal items after an earthquake.

In most cases, this is a normal reaction. But people who feel that they are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience these symptoms for more than a month, should consider seeking professional mental-health counseling.

Here are warning signs of trauma-related stress:

* Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event.

* Trouble sleeping or changes in appetite.

* Anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma.

* Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert.

* Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy.

* Memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma.

* Feeling scattered and unable to focus on work or daily activities; having difficulty making decisions.

* Feeling irritable, easily agitated or angry and resentful.

* Feeling emotionally numb, withdrawn, disconnected or different from others.

* Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness.

* Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones.

* Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma and avoiding activities, places or even people that remind you of the event.

Source: American Psychological Assn.

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