How you might be Affected

Major events are shocking and some of them can be overwhelming. After any major event, it is not unusual to have feelings and other experiences that may continue for some weeks.

People who are directly involved or who lose loved ones are the people who are likely to be most affected. However, witnesses, friends and relatives may have reactions too.

Immediately afterwards, you might feel:

  • stunned, dazed or numb;
  • cut off from what is going on around you;
  • unable to accept what has happened;
  • that it hasn’t really happened.

Usually, these feelings fade and others may take their place in the hours or days afterwards.

In the following few weeks, you might experience:

  • tears and sadness;
  • fear;
  • anxiety;
  • numbness or dreaminess;
  • unpleasant memories about the event;
  • problems with your concentration;
  • difficulties with your memory;
  • difficulties with sleeping, nightmares and tiredness;
  • feeling less confident or, sometimes, helpless;
  • reduced energy;
  • feeling angry or irritable;
  • reduced appetite;
  • guilt about the incident;
  • headaches and other aches and pains;
  • feelings of reluctance to discuss the event or you wish to talk about it all the time;
  • wanting to avoid people, places or activities that remind you of the event (and this might involve travelling on public transport);
  • elation about surviving.

Children and young people are as likely to be affected as adults and they may have similar experiences.  Often they become unsettled and more aggressive or fearful and it is usual for them to be more clingy and demanding. Also, they may 're-play' the event in their games. These reactions are understandable and, usually, reduce gradually over time. Parents can help their children by providing reassurance. Like adults, children cope surprisingly well in the longer-term.