Text Size

People who have survived a very traumatic event when others did not may feel guilty for their survival and they may blame themselves for things they did or could have done differently in the past.

“A woman in Chicago blames herself for spending money on a car last year instead of saving towards her Haitian sister’s potential immigration.”

While some guilt about things left undid or unsaid is a normal part of the grieving experience, excessive survivor guilt can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety and it can also make people more reluctant to seek out help for the way they feel.

Treatment for Survival Guilt

If your feelings of guilt aren’t going away and are interfering with your quality of life, it’s important that you make contact with a mental health professional to discuss effective treatments that can help you get past the legacy of trauma.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat PTSD and survival guilt to help people change negative patterns of thinking that produce negative and hurtful moods and behaviors. 

CBT can work quite quickly, it does not require of you to talk about your past or your subconscious dreams and it provides you with real world skills and techniques that you can practice in daily life to help you feel better.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Reading
Grief: Staying Sober while Dealing with Loss
A No-Relapse Guide to Coping with Grief & Loss © George Hodan
Grief and loss can rock you, no matter how strong your recovery. Learn to grieve in healthy ways to sustain your recovery and honor your departed loved-one. Read Article
Addiction Recovery October 14, 2013
Grief After a Disaster
Dealing with Grief after a Disaster – The Risk of ‘Complicated Grief’ © United Nations Development Programme
While few things hurt like the sudden loss of a loved one, grief is a necessary and ultimately healthy process. Unfortunately, people who lose family and friends to disasters may be at an increased risk of a disorder known as traumatic or complicated grief. Read Article
Trauma Survivors January 19, 2010
Coping with Post-Disaster Stress and Anxiety
Managing Stress and Anxiety in the Wake of Trauma © seyed mostafa zamani
Feeling stressed and anxious after a disaster is normal. Here is some information on what feelings are normal after a disaster, with tips on managing and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety - and also, information on when to get professional help for serious stress or mental health symptoms. Read Article
Trauma Survivors December 15, 2012
Find Help In...
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.