Anyone who has been through a traumatic event may develop emotional and/or physical reactions and changes in behaviour. These fall into 3 main groups:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event
- Intrusive thoughts and images
- Intense distress and physical reactions to things that remind you of the event
- Flashbacks – feeling as though the traumatic event is happening again (you can read more about these below)
- Increased arousal:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or angry outbursts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme alertness
- Being easily startled or panicked
- Avoidance and emotional numbing:
- Keeping busy to avoid reminders of the trauma
- Repression – being unable to recall aspects of the trauma
- Inability to express affection
- Feeling detached or cut off and emotionally numb
- Stop planning for the future
- Loss of interest
Immediately after a traumatic event, these reactions are regarded as normal. Many people overcome them within a few months. If they persist, or get worse, they may be termed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Most people find that they are affected by these unfamiliar, unusual experiences and feelings immediately after the injury, and this is an expected reaction to a traumatic experience. However, the lengthy treatment of burn injuries can mean that it may take a long time for people to start to feel better. For others, for a variety of reasons, recovery may be slower and may not occur without specialist help.
You should seek help if feelings like those described above:
- continue beyond the first 3 or 4 months after your child’s injury
- are intolerable
- are affecting your quality of life.
You should also seek help if:
- you have nowhere to turn for support
- you are starting to depend on alcohol or drugs to help you cope
- you feel suicidal.
Click here to find out where you can access support.