Advice for those previously exposed to traumatising events

When re-exposed to similar and/or other dramatic events, flashbacks and memories of the previously experienced traumas are common. Memories and images from the past may re-emerge and blend with ongoing events.

​Common reactions

  • You m​ay suddenly feel overwhelmingly insecure: Ongoing events may cause locations previously considered safe to suddenly appear utterly unsafe.
  • You may feel that the previously experienced traumatic event(s) are happening again.
  • Memories and images of previous traumatic events may emerge in nightmares and/or during daytime.
  • You may experience sleep problems, anxiety and/or bodily reactions.
  • You may experience a feeling of helplessness.
  • You may worry excessively about your next of kin, regardless of whether they are in your close approximity or abroad.
  • You may feel depressed and/or the need to withdraw from social contexts and from society as a whole.
  • You may find yourself watching too much TV and reading everything published about ongoing events. Such exposure may increase the risk that previously experiences blend with images from the present crisis.

Self help

  • ​Take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition, and stick to your daily routines.
  • Spend time with close relatives and friends if possible. You may profit from discussing your thoughts and concerns with people whom you feel comfortable around.
  • Avoid over-exposure to TV and other media outlets.
  • Physical activity is important for your mental health and well-being. Go for a walk or work out regularly.
  • Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if
    • you experience sleeping problems, bodily pains and/or anxiety
    • your memories and flashbacks are intrusive

Your doctor will be able to provide further help if applicable, e.g. refer you to a councellor or other therapies as they see fit.

​​​​​​​Source: Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Advice for those previously exposed to traumatising events. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Monday, December 6, 2021 [retrieved Friday, February 23, 2024]. Available from:

Last updated Monday, December 6, 2021