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  Guide to trauma reactions

Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma & Transformation

Brief Checklist of Trauma Symptoms

Below, there are a number of types of reactions people can have after a distressing or traumatic experience. These reactions can occur even some months or years after the event. Read carefully through the following sections noting those that are relevant to you. Have you experienced or witnessed one or more traumatic events during which you felt extreme fear, helplessness, or horror.

I find I re-experience or re-live the traumatic event, in one or more of the following ways.

  •  Bad dreams or nightmares about the event or things linked to it
  •  Behaving or feeling as if the event were actually happening all over again  (this is known as having flashbacks)
  •  Having a lot of emotional feelings when I am reminded of the event
  •  Having a lot of physical sensations when I am reminded of the event (e.g.,  my heart races or pounds, I sweat, find it hard to breathe, feel faint, feel  like I'm going to lose control)

I find I avoid any reminders of the traumatic  event, such as …

  •  Avoiding thoughts, conversations, or feelings that remind me about the  event
  •  Avoiding people, places, or activities that remind me of the event
  •  Having  difficulty remembering some important part of the event

I have  noticed that  since the event happened...


  •  I have lost interest in, or just don't do, those things that used to be  important to me
  •  I feel detached from people; I find it hard to trust people
  •  I feel emotionally "numb" and I find it hard to have loving feelings even  toward those who are emotionally close to me
  •  I have a hard time falling or staying asleep
  •  I am irritable and have problems with my anger
  •  I have a hard time concentrating
  •  I think I may not live very long and feel there's no point in planning for the  future
  •  I am jumpy and get startled easily
  •  I am always "on guard"

I have experienced medical or emotional problems since the event such as...

  •  Aches and pains
  •  Stomach upsets
  •  Sleep problems
  •  Skin problems
  •  Irritability
  •  Feeling depressed
  •  Lack of energy or fatigued
  •  Increased use of alcohol or other substance use problems
  •  General anxiety or panic attacks

If you have ticked all or most of the above boxes, it is important for you to let your doctor know. This information is invaluable for planning your medical treatment. It can also help your doctor to refer you to other appropriate services.

© NICTT 2007; V1.0