Reactions to Traumatic Events

Traumatic events are a difficult issue for anyone to deal with. Even if you were not present, you may experience emotional reactions to an event. It is very important to be able to express these feelings in a safe and healthy way. Below are some common responses you may experience now or in the next few days or weeks. Many factors influence how serious these symptoms may be, such as a person’s life experiences, ability to cope with stress, and what kind of support the person seeks.

Symptoms that you may experience can include:

  • Fear
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Inability to eat or sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Self-blame, guilt, and shame
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Increased substance use
  • Social isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide

We want you to know that counselors are available at the Counseling Center to talk with you about your reaction to these events and provide a safe environment to talk about them.  If you would like to talk with a counselor today or anytime in the future, you can call the University of Illinois Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 to schedule a same day appointment.  The Counseling Center also provides emergency walk-in services for urgent concerns between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  To learn more about what to expect at your first appointment visit Making the Initial Appointment.  If you need assistance after hours, please contact the Crisis Line at 217-359-4141.

Below are additional resources you may find helpful:

Office of the Dean of Students

We also want to invite you to check out REACT Online. This interactive program has video functions, educational components, opportunities for self-reflection, and amazing relaxation exercises. REACT online addresses the many common reactions people have to traumatic events, and how these can differ from one person to another.  Most importantly, it focuses on how best to cope with—or even prevent—the most distressing of such reactions. Of note, the video was created by the professional staff at the Counseling Center at Loyola University Maryland and makes specifics reference to services for their students. Please connect with the services (i.e, Counseling Center, Student Assistance Center, McKinley Health Center) on our campus.

The following Self-Help Brochures are also available online:

Coping with Race-Related Stress
Helping Distressed and Distressing Students
Stress Management
Grief and Loss
Understanding and Treating Depression
Understanding and Treating Anxiety
Loneliness
Suicide Prevention