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Where Does Trauma Come From?

Individual trauma occurs with a mixture of things:

  1. It results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances perceived by the individual to be physically or emotionally harmful or threatening.

  2. Have long-term adverse effects, including the physical, social, and emotional well-being of individuals.

  3. Family members, mental health professionals, and other caregivers of survivors of a traumatic event are at risk of vicarious trauma.

In this form of trauma, a person develops traumatic symptoms due to close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event.

While some people may not develop PTSD, they can still experience PTSD-like symptoms shortly after the traumatic event. If your symptoms worsen, persist for months or even years, and interfere with your daily life, you may have PTSD. PTSD is not diagnosed until at least 30 days after the traumatic event because many symptoms like PTSD are actually part of your body's natural response to the traumatic event. For many people, these symptoms will gradually disappear over time.

PTSD develops when trauma symptoms persist or worsen weeks to months after a stressful event. They can exacerbate the predictable trauma symptoms listed above, eventually leading to post-traumatic stress disorder.

People with PTSD may experience anxiety years after their injury, whether or not they have been physically traumatized. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sometimes occurs after a life-threatening event or death. However, suppose symptoms persist and do not decrease in severity. In that case, this may indicate that the trauma has developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many other traumatic events can also cause PTSD, such as fires, natural disasters, robberies, plane crashes, torture, kidnappings, life-threatening medical diagnoses, terrorist attacks, and other extreme or life-threatening events. Over time, these traumatic experiences can significantly impact your future behavior, emotional development, and physical and mental health. Thus, trauma, especially persistent trauma, can dramatically affect your long-term emotional development, mental health, physical health, and behavior.

Early childhood trauma generally refers to traumatic experiences in children between 0 and 6 years of age. Children who experience traumatic stress experience one or more traumas in their lives. This creates responses that persist and affect their daily lives even though the event has ended. When children find themselves in situations where they fear for their lives, believe they will be hurt, witness violence, or tragically lose a loved one, they may show signs of childhood traumatic stress.​​​

Young children are particularly vulnerable to trauma and should undergo a psychological assessment following a traumatic event to ensure their emotional well-being. Children and adolescents can respond to trauma differently from adults, often in unexpected ways.

A person may also experience trauma after witnessing others suffer trauma. Traumatized people may experience a range of emotions immediately and long after the event. These reactions are usually normal responses to trauma, but they can still be painful. Traumatic experiences elicit strong emotional and physical responses that persist long after the event.

Traumatic experiences are often associated with a physical trauma that threatens survival and security. Trauma is a reaction to an event that a person perceives as highly stressful. However, a person may experience trauma from any event perceived as physically or emotionally threatening or harmful.

The term "trauma" indicates an emotional reaction to a deeply upsetting or disturbing event in a psychological context. Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a person's emotional response to a highly adverse event. Trauma is any unpleasant event or experience that can affect a person's ability to cope and function.

Trauma can be caused by extreme negative events that have lasting effects on the victim's psychological and emotional stability. Trauma is the damage to a person's psyche caused by one or more events that cause undue stress, the inability to process or integrate the emotions involved, and ultimately lead to severe long-term negative consequences. Chronic trauma can result from extreme conditions such as prolonged severe illness, sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, and exposure to war. Chronic trauma recurs and prolongs, similar to domestic violence or abuse.

Chronic trauma symptoms often appear long after the event, even for years. Trauma can occur days, months, or even years after the actual event. The traumatic situations that cause post-traumatic symptoms vary significantly from person to person.

Trauma is a risk factor for almost all health and behavioral disorders associated with substance use. Without treatment, repeated exposure to childhood traumatic events can affect the brain and nervous system and increase health risks (eg, smoking, eating disorders, substance use, and high-risk activities).

Many factors contribute to the onset of symptoms, including whether the child has experienced trauma in the past, and protective factors at the child, family, and community levels can reduce the negative impact of trauma. The physical symptoms of trauma can be just as real and disturbing as the symptoms of physical injury or illness, and care must be taken to manage stress levels after a traumatic event.

However, it is essential to remember that not all traumatic experiences diagnose a trauma-related condition. Some acute traumatic events and untreated acute trauma can develop into chronic trauma. This can be seen in people who have been victims of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, family disputes, and other recurring situations such as civil unrest.

Although trauma is a normal reaction to a horrific event, the consequences can be so severe that it prevents everyday living. In addition to an immediate or short-term response, trauma can also cause several long-term reactions in emotional lability, flashbacks, impulsivity, and strained relationships. In other cases, certain physical conditions increase a person's vulnerability to re-experiencing trauma (e.g., fatigue, high levels of stress). As a result, a person experiences high levels of emotional, psychological, and physical stress, which temporarily impairs their ability to function normally in daily life.

Trauma is a reaction to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that inhibits a person's ability to cope, creates a feeling of helplessness, reduces their sense of self and ability to experience the full range of emotions and experiences. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) defines trauma as the direct personal experience of an event involving actual or threatened death or serious injury; threaten their physical integrity, witness an event related to the above experience, learn about an unexpected or violent death, serious harm or threats of death or bodily injury to a family member or close associate.

Cognition and Trauma The following examples reflect some of the types of cognitive or thinking changes with traumatic stress. Trauma is an emotional response to a scary event, such as an accident, rape, or natural disaster.


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