What are Trauma Disorders?
Trauma disorders are mental health conditions that arise, at least in part, as a result of experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or life-threatening event. While many events may be experienced as traumatic, some of the most commonly reported traumatic experiences include being the victim of abuse or neglect as a child, sexual assault, domestic violence, being in an automobile accident, and war.
Merely being exposed to a traumatic event does not necessarily lead to a trauma disorder. When an individual experiences greater than expected difficulty engaging in day-to-day activities for a prolonged period of time after the trauma, the underlying emotional, psychological, and behavioral patterns are considered to be the disorder.
Common Symptoms of PTSD and Trauma Disorders
- Intrusive thoughts, images, and memories related to the traumatic experience
- Hypervigilance, feeling on edge
- Re-experiencing the trauma (“flashbacks”)
- Difficulties with sleeping, nightmares
- Emotional numbing
- Depersonalization, dissociation (e.g., feeling disconnected from body/self)
- Difficulties remembering the traumatic experience
- Avoidance of reminders of the trauma (e.g., people, places, activities, etc)
- Difficulty concentrating