File photo: Thys Dullaart

Durban - With the festive season upon us, crime rates are already starting to increase.

Although the SAPS and community control organisations do all they can to protect us, the trauma experienced through being a witness or victim of crime can seriously alter your life.

It is important to protect yourself psychologically following a life-threatening event.

A must is to visit someone for trauma debriefing within 72 hours. This debriefing is vital as your thoughts are all over the place and it is during this time that you need to try to make the most sense of what has happened.

The first thing to remember is that you are having a completely normal reaction to an abnormal life situation.

Often people feel that after a traumatic event, they are going crazy or that they are not normal for feeling the way they do. This is not the case at all.

Some normal human reactions you may face both psychologically and physiologically are changes such as flashbacks, hyper sensitivity to noise, irritability, nightmares, and battling to concentrate.

You may experience excess sweating, headaches, pains in your back and chest, tiredness and insomnia.

You may also find yourself teary-eyed or crying for no reason. You may want to avoid the area or place where the trauma happened.

The best thing to do is get help from a professional as soon as you can. Until your appointment, the best to do is allow yourself to just be. If you need to cry, then cry.

If you feel emotional then sit with the emotion, feel it for as long as you can but only so long as you don't re-experience the trauma and make yours

Get as much support from family and friends as you can. If you have to tell them the story of what happened, a thousand times, do it!

If you deal with your trauma (alongside a professional) from the onset, it can be overcome before it escalates.

If you happen to experience the trauma and don’t get help, this often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be a longer process to overcome and one that is unnecessary if you get the support you need from the beginning. - The Mercury