It is not unusual to feel bad after a frightening experience. Here are some examples of frightening experiences:
- Someone threatened you, tortured you, or was violent towards you.
- You witnessed someone threatening, torturing, or being violent towards other people.
- You suddenly lost a close friend or member of your family.
- You experienced war, a natural disaster, or an accident.
People react to things differently. You may not feel well after a frightening experience, while someone else may not be as affected. You might start feeling bad right after it happens, or you could experience side effects a long time later.
How you might be affected by a frightening experience
- You have trouble sleeping and have nightmares.
- You think about the horrible thing that happened often. It may feel very real.
- You feel sad or angry often.
- You get a strong sense of fear that comes on suddenly and you can feel in your body.
- You have trouble concentrating.
- You feel stiff or have pain in your body.
- You avoid things or situations that remind you of what happened.
- You avoid other people, sometimes even your own family.
- You feel like nothing makes you happy, or that nothing matters.
Post-traumatic stress and PTSD
It is not unusual to feel bad after a frightening experience. It will often go away by itself over time. If you keep feeling bad for a long time, you may have developed PTSD, which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder.
You can get help for PTSD. There are a number of different types of treatment. In most cases, you will meet several times to talk with a healthcare professional who helps people who are not doing well emotionally. You may also be given medication.
When and where should I seek medical care?
Seek medical care if you are not doing well after a frightening experience. You can contact one of the following:
- a healthcare centre
- a youth guidance centre (ungdomsmottagning)
- a clinic that is open in the evenings and on weekends
- a psychiatric clinic
Call the 1177 hotline if you would like advice about where to get help. The hotline is staffed by nurses. You can speak Swedish or English.
Call 112 or go straight to a hospital emergency department if you are feeling really bad, or if you feel like you do not want to live any more.
You have the right to feel safe and secure in healthcare
All staff have a duty to maintain patient confidentiality. This means that the staff are not allowed to tell people outside of the healthcare system anything about you. If you do not speak Swedish, you may be entitled to an interpreter (a person who translates from your language into Swedish, and vice versa). The interpreter also has a duty to maintain patient confidentiality.
If you want to, you can bring a friend or family member along. A friend or family member who translates for you is not an interpreter, and therefore does not have a duty to maintain patient confidentiality.
What can I do to feel better?
It is good to talk to someone about how you are feeling. This could be a person you know, or a healthcare professional. You can also write about what happened and how you are feeling. This could help you feel better.
Here are some other things that could help:
- Go outside and get your body moving by taking a walk, for example.
- Try to sleep and eat at about the same times each day.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. It might feel like these are helping at first, but you will end up feeling worse.