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The Five Stages of Trauma: Denial, Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression

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Stages Trauma

The five stages of trauma are: initial reaction, denial and isolation, anger and bargaining, depression and reflection, and resolution and integration.

Initial Reaction: The first stage of trauma is the initial reaction to the event. This may include shock, confusion, disbelief, or feeling overwhelmed. This is a normal response to an abnormal event.

Denial and Isolation: In this stage, people may try to deny that the event happened or that it had any impact on them. They may also try to isolate themselves from others as a way of avoiding reminders of the trauma.

Anger and Bargaining: In this stage, people may become angry about what happened and may try to bargain with themselves or with others in an attempt to make sense of it all. For example, they may say things like “If only I had been there sooner” or “If only I had done something differently.”

Depression and Reflection: During this stage, people often become depressed as they realize the true scope of what has happened. They may also reflect on their own mortality or on the loss of loved ones. This can be a very dark time for many people who are struggling.

Bargaining – I promise I’ll never ask for another thing if only you will

In the bargaining stage, individuals focus on what they could have done to prevent the trauma. They may also negotiate with God or a higher power in an attempt to avoid the pain of loss.

The bargaining stage is often considered a defense mechanism against overwhelming grief. By negotiating with God or another higher power, individuals may be able to make some sense of their loss and find a way to cope with their sadness and anger.

During this phase, it is not uncommon for people to blame themselves for the trauma. They may think that if they had only done something differently, they could have prevented it from happening. This type of thinking can lead to feelings of guilt and shame.

It is important to remember that there is no way to know what would have happened if things had been different. Blaming yourself will not change anything and will only make you feel worse. Instead, try to focus on the present and what you can do now to improve your situation.

Depression – a gloom that comes from having to adjust to so much so quickly

Depression is a common reaction to trauma. It can be short-lived, or it can last for months or even years. Depression can make it hard to function in your day-to-day life. It may cause you to lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, feel hopeless, and have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You may also have physical symptoms, such as low energy, headaches, and digestive problems.

If you’re struggling with depression after a traumatic event, know that you’re not alone. Many people go through this. There are things you can do to feel better. Treatment can help if your symptoms are severe or don’t go away on their own over time.

The first step is acknowledging that you’re having difficulty and reaching out for help from a qualified professional. If the thought of talking about your trauma is too difficult or overwhelming, there are other types of treatment that may be helpful, such as medication or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Most importantly, remember that healing is possible and there is hope for a better future ahead.


The final stage of trauma is acceptance. This is when the individual comes to terms with what has happened and starts to rebuild their life. It is a slow process and there will be setbacks, but eventually the individual will be able to move on.