Some experiences can be devastating when they happen but also continue to have effects that last a long time.
Children who witness or experience trauma are more likely to have problems as adults.
There are many traumatic events that can affect mental health, such as:
- being neglected or abused as a child
- being sexually or physically abused as an adult
- experiencing relationship abuse
- living in areas of armed conflict
- working in the armed forces, emergency services or related professions, such as social work
Witnesses to traumatic events can also be strongly affected by them. You may feel confused, afraid or angry, and may also feel guilty, ashamed or numb about the events you have experienced.
Traumatic events can be things like serious accidents, natural or man-made disasters, or a traumatic childbirth.
When we experience traumatic events, our body’s defences take effect and create a stress response, which may make us feel physical changes or intense emotions, or behave differently.
Directly after the event, we may experience shock and denial. This can give way over hours or days to feelings like sadness, anger and guilt.
Many people feel better and recover gradually, but traumatic life events increase our risk of poorer mental health, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are lots of sources of support and information that can help if you have experienced traumatic events.
Read more about traumatic events and mental health
- Combat Stress: help for you
- Mental Health Foundation: the impact of traumatic events on mental health
- Mind: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- PTSD UK support group
Read more about abuse and neglect in childhood
- National Association for People Abused in Childhood
- NSPCC: non-recent abuse
- The Survivor’s Trust: national helplines
Read more about domestic and sexual abuse
The impact of bereavement
Over our lifetime we’re all likely to experience the loss of a friend or loved one. Whenever it happens, it will be a difficult time. This is particularly true if you are experiencing bereavement and grief during the coronavirus pandemic (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Grief affects us in different ways. When we are bereaved, we are likely to feel waves of emotions as we come to terms with loss. These can include sadness, guilt, shock and anger. All are normal after a death. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.
If these feelings have become overwhelming, information is available about how to deal with grief and loss.
There are lots of sources of support and advice that can help if you have been bereaved.
Read more about bereavement and mental health