Mental health

Advice if you feel bad after experiencing something frightening

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It is quite common to feel bad after something frightening has happened. For example, you may feel scared and have trouble sleeping. This usually goes away on its own after some time. There are things you can do to make yourself feel better.

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If you are a young person, you can read more at The page is available in English.

It is common for the reaction to come later

It is quite common to have a reaction during and after something frightening has happened. Sometimes the reaction comes much later.

Here are some common examples of how you might feel:

  • You have trouble sleeping or have nightmares.
  • You think about what happened often, and the memories may feel real.
  • You often feel sad or angry.
  • You may suddenly feel very scared.
  • You avoid people or places that remind you of what happened.

If you have been feeling this way a long time, it may seem like nothing makes you happy or that nothing matters.

What can I do to make myself feel better?

Talk to others about how you are feeling. You will often feel better afterwards. You can talk to someone you know or trust.

You can also talk to someone in a club, a religious community, or in healthcare.

Here are other things that may help you feel better: 

  • Get outside and move your body. Preferably during the day when it is light.
  • Try to sleep and eat at the same times every day. 
  • Do things that make you happy or take your mind off things. 

Avoid alcohol and drugs. It may feel like these help at first. But later, you feel worse.

Set a limit to how much time you spend reading or watching the news, or on social media. Avoid information that might make you more anxious.

What can I do to support a child?

Every child is different. They may react in different ways. There is no right or wrong way.

Here are some things to think about if a child has been through something frightening:

  • Talk about what is happening and has happened in a way that the child understands.
  • Listen to and answer the child's questions and concerns.
  • Show that it is OK to worry. But also that it is OK to take breaks from worrying.
  • Avoid news that might make the child more anxious. Talk instead about what you know.
  • Ask what your child sees on the internet. Tell them that not everything that is spread is true. You do not have to watch everything that is shown.
  • Let the child express themselves in ways other than words, such as drawing, writing or playing.
  • Keep up daily routines, and try to find fun things to do together.

Safe place 

There are apps that your child can use on a mobile phone, computer or tablet to help them cope with worry, stress and anxiety. One example is the app Safe Place from Rädda Barnen. It is free to use and available in several languages.
You can download the app here. 

When and where should I seek help?

Most people who feel bad after a frightening experience do not need to seek help from healthcare services. But it is important to seek help if you or someone in your family does not start to feel better after two to four weeks.

In such case, contact one of these clinics:

  • a healthcare centre (vårdcentral) 
  • a youth guidance centre (ungdomsmottagning)
  • an urgent care centre 
  • a psychiatric clinic.

You can read more about how healthcare works in Sweden here.

Ask for advice

Call 1177 for help on what to do.

Call 0046 771-11 77 00 if your phone does not have a Swedish subscription or SIM card, or if you are calling from another country.

Your call will be answered by a nurse. You can choose to speak Swedish or English. Help is sometimes available in other languages.

If you are feeling very bad or have thoughts of not wanting to live, call 112 or go straight to an emergency department.

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