How to Recognise Effects of Psychological Shock after a Traumatic Event


Grief is a traumatic event, which can lead to emotional trauma or, by another name-shock. When we are frozen to the spot in shock, like the rabbits in headlights, embracing change can be scary. But it’s worth doing. The first thing to do is to accept what is happening to you, which is not always easy to do. We try to cope, but it sometimes falls short of what we need to feel better.




Mental health professionals use the term ‘shock’ to help us understand our overwhelmed state after a stressful event. Traumatic experiences will interact with your personal vulnerabilities and previous painful experiences. No one can predict when you will start to feel better. Some people recover quickly from emotional trauma within several hours or days. For others, it takes time and can be several weeks, months or even years before they fully recover. Be patient with yourself. You might take more time to feel better than someone who has had a physical injury. Keep in mind that it’s possible to experience ‘delayed’ emotional shock. This is when you might feel that an event has not upset you initially, only to feel symptoms days or weeks later. You may have developed an acute stress disorder or even post-traumatic stress disorder, as explained previously. This can happen if your experience has triggered old, unresolved experiences or was just too utterly shocking for your mind to process.


If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, then it’s time to seek medical support. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist because a professional can help you uncover your past trauma. They can help you to lessen its’ control over your life. One of these professionals may be used as an angel from God to help you - you never know.


Some Physical Effects of Shock

When you understand what’s happening to your body and your thinking, the experience of shock becomes less frightening. The effects of shock cause stress hormones to flood into your bloodstream and may take some hours for your body to get back to normal. While this is happening, you may feel queasy, light-headed, and feel muscle tension, pain, or stiffness. Why do you feel pain?


Typically, when you have a shock reaction, you will quite unconsciously tense your muscles, ready to fight or flee. You don’t notice the pain during an adrenaline surge, but as the rush is wearing off, be prepared- you will. Nurture yourself as best you can, then your body knows what to do and will return to normal. Although psychological shock can feel intense, your body will only keep this state for a short period. Mostly, the human constitution is exceptionally good at coping with traumatic experiences.


A Word of Caution

While in recovery, you may get impatient and want to feel better right now, but be aware of your vulnerabilities. What do I mean by the vulnerability? You may become more sensitive to comments or the actions of others and take them very personally while at one time they would just roll over you, but now panic, making quick unwise decisions. You might experience flashbacks causing you to react as you did at the time of the trauma. Your judgement may become clouded and seek immediate psychological and physical reward or comfort, resulting in unusual behaviours. You may find the wrong person to cling to or take advice from.


Perhaps someone who is no good for you will offer a relationship to help you overcome the pain, but in fact, it may add more problems. You may become easily persuaded into a new business deal or venture. A new purchase, maybe a new romance or something else that may be disguised as a welcome relief, but in fact, possibly devastating for you in the long term. These are only a few examples. All these things can come in the guise of care or love, but they are really a wolf in sheep's clothing. There are myriads of ways we act out our vulnerabilities and can be taken advantage of.


I can’t emphasize enough that you need to be aware of your vulnerabilities. The experience of grief can be as the dark valley of death in Psalm 23. You are inside of it, and it’s dark, scary, and you close your eyes, hoping it will all go away. The grief pulls at your heart, so you can’t enjoy or appreciate the beautiful surroundings you’re in. You may be sitting on a gorgeous beach or in a lovely garden enjoying the sunshine. But in your heart and in your thoughts', you are somewhere else entirely. You feel that you’re in that dark valley, and you begin to feel very alone. Your suffering has become a solitary place for you. A place that no one else can enter. A place where you feel you might have to stay.


What kind of burdens are you facing today? Grief can be lonely and exhausting. We all need help coping with life’s challenges, especially those that make us feel like we are about to be crushed.


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Don’t stay hurting

If this article has resonated with you and you would like more support and help, you can purchase my book which goes into depth the effect of traumas and grief. Available now on Amazon –


Nothing Good about Grief

The Path to recovery after COVID -19 and other losses.

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