People who have survived trauma may feel like they relive the feelings of extreme sadness, depression, and anxiety on the anniversary of the traumatic event. The anniversary of a traumatic event can invoke intense feelings and emotions associated with the trauma. Some people even struggle with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can be overwhelming and take control of physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Everyone reacts and heals differently to trauma. Sometimes, a psychological reaction to different senses can occur that reminds a person of the trauma, such as a particular sound, smell, or season. Reliving the feelings is normal and a natural reaction to the healing process, but sometimes the intensity of the emotions can make it difficult for a person to function at work, school, or home.
What Can Happen?
Anniversary dates of traumatic events can reactivate thoughts and feelings from the actual event, and survivors may experience anxiety and depression. Around the anniversary of a traumatic event, people are likely to remember events clearly, and many will feel emotions more intensely than usual. Reliving the sadness is a very natural part of the healing process. However, there is no one right way to heal. Try not to compare your reactions to those of others. Each person is different, and each individual will find their own way of coping with the memories.
Anniversary reactions can occur on the anniversary of the date the traumatic event happened – the date itself triggers the memory. For example, the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks were labeled with the date on which they occurred (9/11), linking the date directly to the traumatic event. A traumatic memory can hold onto the information that causes one to be afraid of certain people, places, or things associated with the traumatic event.
People who have PTSD sometimes have flashbacks of the events repeatedly. They may avoid certain places or people and can be easily startled and have angry outbursts. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, NIH, people with PTSD may have an increased risk of coronary heart disease and possibly thromboembolic stroke.
A traumatic event’s anniversary can trigger a distressing memory that produces intense feelings, emotions, physiological reactions, negative thoughts about the world, and protective coping responses. Traumatic memories contain specific information about an event’s seriousness to help people seek safety and protect themselves from similar harm. The memory provides information about what the person should be afraid of, how they should perceive such situations, how to feel in that situation, and what to think.
Mental health is significant to study in the context of disasters – often in such events as 9/11, loved ones are lost suddenly, horrifically, and unexpectedly. Some of the reactions those affected may experience as the anniversary date nears include difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritable outbursts, nightmares, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and feelings of detachment from others.
Coping With the Anniversary of a Traumatic Event
The anniversary of a traumatic event or loss can be a time of reflection and can be seen as an opportunity for a person to look back and recognize how far they have come. It can be a time to recognize and appreciate family, friends, and loved ones who supported them throughout the healing process. You may want to consider the following to help you cope with the anniversary of a traumatic event:
- Prepare for the anniversary in advance. Make plans for healthy distractions.
- Memorialize the loss of a loved one. When appropriate, make a specific plan related to your loss or traumatic event.
- Remind yourself the feelings are temporary. The distressing symptoms of the anniversary should disperse over time.
- Understand symptoms can appear on other dates at any time. Mental health conditions can worsen on holidays, during winter months, and even birthdays.
- Find support and ask for help. Do not be ashamed to ask for help and seek treatment, even many years after the traumatic event or loss.
Mental Health Treatment is Available
Everyone copes with tragedy and trauma differently. While some thoughts, emotions, and feelings can be very troubling, it helps to know these reactions are expected after a traumatic event. Sometimes, people have these strong feelings for weeks or months later. Working through trauma takes time and requires physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
At Achieve Concierge, we take a holistic approach to total wellness. We offer same-day access to mental health services so you can collaborate with our medical clinicians to explore treatment options for mental health disorder symptoms without delay. We monitor your progress in our mental health treatment program and ensure you can safely manage your mental health symptoms. We work with you to develop the best treatment plan based on your unique needs to deliver the best results.
Preparing for a traumatic event’s anniversary can help you cope with strong feelings and emotions associated with the trauma or loss. With Achieve Concierge’s same-day mental health services, individuals can get instant help to find ways to manage their mental health symptoms. We want to help you find ways to cope with your symptoms, and our team of dedicated clinicians is prepared to develop the best treatment plan for you. Each person who suffers from mental health symptoms responds differently to treatment. At Achieve Concierge, we offer youth and adult mental health services to help ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Appointments with our providers can be made in-person or via telemedicine. We take a holistic approach to treatment and want to help by determining the best course of action to treat your mental health disorder. To discover more about our services and treatment plans, call Achieve Concierge today at (619) 393-5871.