Trauma-like symptoms are a natural physical and emotional reaction after any distressing and traumatic experience. These events threaten our beliefs about safety, and shatter our notions of integrity and trust.
To begin with, these symptoms are adaptive and can be nature’s way of slowly letting the mind grasp the enormity of the situation. It is almost expected that some of these trauma-symptoms will be present for a few days after the event.
It is only when these symptoms persist for longer than a month that a diagnosis of PTSD can be considered. (That is not to say that you need to painfully endure the symptoms for a month before seeking help!)
If you have been suffering these symptoms for more that a few days and feel you are struggling to get your life back in control you should consider seeking professional help. You may be diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder (essentially PTSD symptoms of less than 1 month duration) and begin a treatment plan that will assist recovery.
Please note that after experiencing any trauma, it is advisable to seek some sort of debriefing or counseling as soon as possible. Early intervention and treatment can make the world of difference to the healing process. It is possible to avoid PTSD by receiving the necessary psychological treatment as soon as you can!
Debriefing or counseling can be facilitated by a psychologist or a lay counselor trained to work with PTSD. You can also telephone a helpline and speak to a counselor. If you do not have access to a professional person, try to find someone you trust and talk to them about what happened and about your feelings.
Keeping the experience to yourself and trying to be ‘brave’ may cause harm in the future, even though it may help you to cope in the short term. Studies have shown that the earlier people talk through their traumatic experiences, the smaller the chance of developing PTSD.