When a person experiences a distressing event or series of events, such as abuse, a bad accident, rape or other sexual violence, combat, or a natural disaster, they may have an emotional response called trauma.

Immediate reactions after a traumatic event include shock and denial, while more long-term reactions may include mood swings, relationship challenges, flashbacks, and physical symptoms. These responses may be concerning to the person experiencing them and those around them, but they are normal responses to traumatic events.

While the trauma itself was unavoidable and the responses are normal, they can still be problematic and dangerous. Professional support from a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist can help with coping and recovery.

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