Recently the nation has been worrying about the effects of the recent floods and storms. We can readily understand the damage to people’s property and the disruptions to their lives. What we don’t so readily appreciate is the damage to their emotional well-being. Of course, most people who experience very frightening situations find that their inevitably heightened anxiety and fear levels soon start to fade. Sadly some don’t. These are the people who might eventually need some psychotherapeutic help.
In my work I often see people who are suffering from the emotional aftermath of traumatic incidents in their lives. It’s not all headlines stuff. Much of my work is with people suffering from ordinary, but no less scary, life events like car crashes, personal violence, injuries at work, and so on. Sometimes they weren’t personally involved with the drama. Just witnessing it was enough. Sadly, all too often, they don’t get to see me until many months, even years, after the event. If only they could have got some help at the time. Injuries can be treated and property can be repaired. The sooner the work starts, the sooner things get back to normal. That’s true of people’s damaged emotions too.
In most emergencies, people who have been physically harmed are put through a triage system to grade the seriousness of their injuries. Most only need ‘tea and sympathy’ and perhaps a plaster or two. Time is the great healer. Some need more intensive medical help and support. This is just as true for their emotional injuries. Most people recover OK but some need psychotherapeutic help and support.
So, my message for anybody who has experienced a traumatic incident in their lives is simple. Don’t just feel that you have to put up with the emotional or psychological distress – seek professional help – the sooner the better.