People who have experienced a traumatic event often suffer psychological stress, which leads them to use poor judgment and engage in risky behavior--such as entering unsafe buildings to retrieve personal items after an earthquake.
In most cases, this is a normal reaction. But people who feel that they are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience these symptoms for more than a month, should consider seeking professional mental-health counseling.
Here are warning signs of trauma-related stress:
* Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event.
* Trouble sleeping or changes in appetite.
* Anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma.
* Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert.
* Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy.
* Memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma.
* Feeling scattered and unable to focus on work or daily activities; having difficulty making decisions.
* Feeling irritable, easily agitated or angry and resentful.
* Feeling emotionally numb, withdrawn, disconnected or different from others.
* Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness.
* Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones.
* Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma and avoiding activities, places or even people that remind you of the event.
Source: American Psychological Assn.