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Traumatic Stress

It is known that individuals directly exposed to traumatic events such as earthquakes experience negative effects on their psychology. It is also now known that the effects of traumatic events go beyond those directly exposed to the trauma. Secondary traumatization is defined as the negative impact on the psychology of individuals who witness (see/hear) someone else's traumatic experience or watch it on television.

Individuals who have not directly experienced a traumatic event such as an earthquake but have witnessed the trauma may also experience various fears and anxieties. Secondary traumatic stress is the natural behavior and emotions that result from being knowledgeable about a traumatic event experienced by someone else and the stress caused by wanting to help the person who has experienced the trauma. The negative effects of secondary trauma are almost the same as the effects of primary trauma. Individuals experiencing secondary traumatization exhibit similar reactions to those who have directly experienced the trauma.

The earthquakes that occurred on February 6, 2023, and thereafter, which resulted in significant losses, have caused many primary and secondary traumas in our country. After the trauma, many people both in the earthquake zone and throughout the country are experiencing intense stress. People who have lost their loved ones and homes suddenly and unexpectedly are having difficulty accepting the reality of their losses. Many people throughout the country cannot help but think about the possibility of the earthquake recurring in different places and are trying to take precautions. All of these reactions after trauma are expected and natural.

Below are the potential negative effects of trauma on mental health.

  • Thoughts and Feelings That Trauma Can Cause

  • Disturbing memories of the traumatic event that do not go away from the mind,

  • Feeling like reliving the event

  • Disturbing and recurring dreams and nightmares about the traumatic event

  • Intense emotional or physical reactions to situations that remind of the traumatic event

  • Avoidance of places, activities, or people that remind of the traumatic event

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world

  • Hopelessness about the future

  • Memory problems such as not remembering certain parts of the traumatic event

  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

  • Withdrawal from family and friends

  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions

  • Easily frightened

  • Being constantly on alert for danger

  • Harmful behaviors such as excessive drinking or reckless driving

  • Sleep problems

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Irritability, anger outbursts, or aggressive behavior

  • Excessive guilt or shame

If your disturbing thoughts and feelings related to trauma have not decreased for more than a month, are intense, and you are having difficulty controlling your life, you should seek support from a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Get well soon, Turkey.


Bride, B. E., Robinson, M. M., Yegidis, B., Figley, C.R., (2004). Development and validation of the secondary traumatic stress scale. Research on Social Work Practice (14)1 27-35.

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