Traumatic Events

Traumatic events are sudden or protracted events that can overwhelm people and systems set up to cope with normal events.  On both the Charles River and the Medical Campuses our workplaces involve train tracks, trolleys, buses, cars, bicycles and foot traffic, often at odds with each other. Our faculty, staff and students may be victims or bystanders and exposed to violence, death, sexual assault, or alcohol related accidents.  Fires, floods, illnesses, robberies, natural disasters or terrorist activities are examples of other traumatic events.  These incidents are difficult to witness and may cause physical and emotional distress, often referred to as post- traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

It is helpful to remind yourself you are not alone and can take advantage of the resources listed on this page.

Common Signs and Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Intrusive thoughts or images about the incident and people involved
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety and shakiness
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Disturbed sleep or eating
  • Tearfulness and sadness
  • Feeling numb or paralyzed
  • Easily startled
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is helpful to acknowledge your trauma and find adaptive ways to cope effectively.

Some strategies to help you cope after a traumatic event:

  • Talk to others about your experience.
  • It may be difficult to talk to family or friends who will find it upsetting – talk to co-workers, mental health professionals, or clergy.
  • Try to keep to your schedule of regular activities and engage in activities that you enjoy.
  • Give yourself enough rest. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid lying in your bed thinking about the traumatic event. It might be helpful to get up, regroup, listen to music, read or watch TV.
  • Expressing your emotions through writing might be helpful. Consider journaling or blogging.
  • Give yourself permission to cry at times.
  • Exercise regularly to alleviate stress.
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs.