You may experience a wide variety of emotions after a traumatic event—this is natural. Many trauma survivors are able to handle these volatile feelings on their own. But what about trauma survivors who are struggling to cope? When should they seek help? Below are six signs that it’s time to visit a trauma counselor:
- You can’t stop thinking about the trauma. In the immediate time period after a traumatic event, it’s normal to think about what has happened. But as time passes this urge should lessen. However, if you find that weeks, months or years after a traumatic event you still think about it constantly, it may be time to see a trauma counselor.
- You feel numb or empty. If you feel that nothing matters—nothing brings joy nor makes you angry, then you should probably see a trauma counselor. Emotionally numbing yourself after a traumatic event is a poor coping strategy. While you may cut off the expression of your emotions, they are still there—under the surface. In some instances they can show up in your body as aches, pains, and unexplained illnesses.
- You’re experiencing intense emotions. On the opposite end of feeling numb is having emotions so intense that they impact your life. If you feel so much sadness that you find yourself crying for hours or considering suicide, it may be time to speak with a trauma counselor. Intense emotions are a sign that you are not coping well with the traumatic event.
- You’re relying on drugs and alcohol to feel better. Coping with trauma without the aid of drugs or alcohol will put you on the road to a quick recovery. However, leaning on these substances can not only harm your trauma recovery, but they can also harm your health, your relationships, and your ability to perform at work and act in a socially responsible way. If you find yourself leaning on drugs and alcohol to cope with trauma, speak with a trauma counselor.
- You have no trusted person to talk to. It’s important that trauma survivors have at least one person to talk to about their experiences and feelings. But it’s also important that the person is trustworthy and nonjudgmental. If you find that you don’t have friends or family to talk to about your trauma, you may want to speak with a trauma counselor to help you process your feelings.
- You’re more isolated. If you find that you’re unable to reestablish connections with healthy friends and family then it may be time to speak with a trauma counselor. Nurturing your closest relationships is important if you’re to get the support you need for a successful recovery.
While it’s true that your road to trauma recovery may be long and winding, you don’t have to travel alone. Working with a professional trauma counselor can help you find your way and heal.