University Counseling Center

Dealing with a Traumatic Event

Traumatic events impact everyone. Even when not present at the event, you may experience emotional reactions. It is helpful to express these feelings in a safe and healthy manner. Below are some common responses you may experience now or in the next few days or weeks. Various factors impact how serious these symptoms may be, such as a person’s life experiences, ability to cope with stress, and what kind of support the person seeks.

Although not an all-inclusive list, there are just a few common reactions to trauma:

  • Fear
  • Shock/ Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Inability to eat or sleep
  • Increase anxiety/ anxiousness
  • Self-blame, guilt, and shame
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Numbness
  • Flashbacks and/or nightmares
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to focus
  • Increased use of substances as a way to "numb"
  • Hypervigilance
  • Increased irritability or frustration
  • Anger
  • Avoidance of things that remind you of the trauma

Counselors are available at the University Counseling Center to provide a safe environment to talk with you about your reaction to these events. If you would like to talk with a counselor please call the Counseling Center at 309-298-2453 to schedule an appointment. We are open Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm.

For assistance in an emergency, dial 911, or the WIU Office of Public Safety at 309-298-1949.