Trauma/Stress Reactions

Common Reactions

Following is a list of some of the common reactions to stressful or traumatic events and situations. A wide range of reactions to trauma/stress are natural and tend to dissipate over time.  

Physical Reactions

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Under activity/over activity
  • Change in appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle tremors/twitches
  • Headaches
  • Heightened startle reactions

Cognitive Reactions

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Flashbacks of the events  
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Memory disturbance
  • Preoccupation with the event
  • Lowered attention span
  • Violent fantasies

Emotional Reactions

  • Guilt
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Emotional numbing
  • Overly sensitive
  • Fear/anxiety       
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Anger/irritability
  • Moodiness

In addition to the above reactions, you may experience a period of mild to moderate depression. These symptoms include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Social withdrawal/isolation
  • Persistent sad mood
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of sexual drive
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Lethargy/low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Intrusive thoughts

Although painful, these reactions are part of our natural recovery processes. Although there is little anyone can do to take away these uncomfortable feelings, there are several things you can do to help facilitate the recovery process. 

Coping Suggestions

  • Reassure yourself that a wide range of reactions and feelings are normal.  
  • Engage in activities to de-stress and help yourself to feel safe.
  • Do not attempt to numb your emotional pain with alcohol or other drugs. 
  • Give yourself permission to have feelings and to share those feelings with others.
  • Structure your time – keep busy.
  • Help your fellow students by checking out how they’re doing.
  • Talk to others – this is the most healing medicine.
  • Listen to others – reassure them that they are safe, don’t take their feelings personally.
  • Keep your life as normal as possible.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Pray, meditate, and appreciate the sanctity of life. 

Signs or situations that may lead you to seek additional support and/or counseling

  • Being directly affected by, or closely connected to those affected by the tragedies.
  • Memories of previous loss, trauma, or crisis that you/they have faced.
  • Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities.
  • Crying more than usual in response to sadness.
  • Experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety, fear for your safety, or rage.
  • Inability to engage in activities and responsibilities required in classes or campus positions.

CSB/SJU Counseling Resources

  • Counseling is available for all enrolled students.  Students can call 320-363-3236 to schedule an appointment or to request an urgent/crisis appointment.  

Other Mental Health Resources

  • Central MN Mental Health Crisis Line – 24/7 crisis line (320-253-5555)
  • National Crisis Text Line 24/7 crisis service (Type “Home “ to 741-741)