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Psychological trauma can also affect persons who have experienced severe emotional harm. This type of trauma happens when a person has stress that increases his capacity to deal with the corresponding stress.

Individuals who experience a highly stressful event may have trouble going back to their normal state of mind afterward. In several cases, they develop a mental health disorder closely related to this experience. This is known as a trauma disorder and include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • acute stress disorder (ASD)
  • second-hand trauma
  • disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) 
  • reactive attachment disorder (RAD), adjustment disorders

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 Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is one of the most common trauma disorders. It is estimated to affect almost 8 million US adults each year. Persons develop PTSD following a traumatic event. It is common for initial symptoms to begin following the days of the traumatic event. Sometimes, symptoms show up months later.

 Acute stress disorder into (ASD)

Acute stress disorder is quite similar to PTSD. However, it lasts shorter in duration. ASD symptoms take shape immediately after a traumatic event and last 3 days to a month. If these symptoms persist beyond a month the person has developed PTSD.

Second-hand trauma

Also known as a secondary traumatic stress disorder. This disorder results from exposure to first hand trauma of other people. Symptoms of secondary traumatic stress include; hyper-vigilance, a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, guilt, fear, and feeling like you can never do enough to help. It can affect anyone. It, however, commonly affects professionals who work with trauma victims like social workers and counselors.

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)

RAD occurs in children who are unable to form stable attachments to their caregivers. If a child’s basic needs are unmet or the child keeps moving to new caregivers, they are at a high risk of developing RAD. Symptoms of RAD may include; emotional withdrawal or inhibition, impaired emotional response to others, and lack of response to comfort from caregivers. Although rare, this is a condition that can be devastating to a child’s normal development and can affect their lives into adulthood. However, treatment can assist.

Adjustment disorders

These disorders are mainly temporary and triggered by stressful events such as, job loss, divorce, diagnosis of an illness, or losing a loved one. Some people may cope with the stress of these situations on their own. However, others need help from a mental health professional. Some of the symptoms associated with adjustment disorders include; withdrawing from family and friends, lack of appetite, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. Treatment for adjustment disorders is temporary. However, for a long time life event e.g. an ongoing illness, one might need long-term treatment.

Other and unspecified trauma and stressor-related disorders.

If you have certain symptoms of a trauma disorder but do not meet the full criteria for one of the recognized types or are unable to provide enough information for a specific diagnosis, in this situation a healthcare professional will make a diagnosis of, “other or unspecified trauma and stressor-related disorder” This diagnosis is not any less serious than any other trauma disorder. People with such a disorder have a legitimate mental health condition diminishing their quality of life. Treatment can help you gain control over the symptoms.

Different reasons can cause trauma some of these include;

  •  Sexual harassment may incorporate different types of rape, incorporate assault, inappropriate behavior, or sexual wrongdoing of a kind.
  •  Abuse may incorporate mental, verbal, enthusiastic, or actual harassment just as more inconspicuous friend pressure.
  • Segregation may incorporate race, belief, sex, or age separation, for instance.
  • Drug abuse may incorporate having a parent who’s a substance user or heavy drinker.
  • Labor-related injury can happen when work takes a tough or sudden turn. This may include a stillborn or difficult situation during birth.
  • Death can incorporate the passing of a family member or friend particularly if abrupt or unforeseen.

Treatment and Types of Therapies

Several therapy approaches can help you heal from trauma. The purpose of all trauma-focused therapy is to integrate the traumatic event into your life not subtract it. It is important to note that many therapists do combine different types of therapies for ultimate results.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

This is the use of medications to manage disruptive trauma reactions. Medication has shown to be helpful with the following classes of symptoms; intrusive symptoms, hyperarousal, irritability, depression, emotional reactivity, and heightened arousal.

Medication helps in making the symptoms less intense and more manageable. If you decide to use medication, consult your psychiatrist and continue working with them as long as you are on the medication. It is essential because you might develop side effects and need to change or adjust your dose.

Behavior therapy

Exposure is the most common form of behavior therapy. In exposure therapy, the patient is advised to slowly face their fears, e.g. the memories over traumatic events without the fear consequence occurring. Often, this exposure will result in the person knowing that the fear is unwarranted which in turn allows it to decrease.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

CBT sets its foundation in the idea that an individual must correct and change wrongful thoughts and increase knowledge in skills. Common elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy include; exposure therapy, teaching individuals how to breathe to manage anxiety and stress, and educating individuals on normal reactions to trauma.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

An EMDR session consists of 8 phases. The treatment involves one mentally focusing on the traumatic experience while visually tracking a moving light or the therapist moving their hand. Auditory tones are used in some cases.


A hypnotherapist will guide the individual in therapy into a hypnotic state. They will then get the person talking, or speak to the person about an issue. Most hypnotherapists stand by the fact that emotions that an individual comes in contact with while in hypnosis are crucial to healing.

Benefits of Trauma Therapy

It is important to know of your trauma, what its triggers are and how you react to them. It is also essential to know what your goal in therapy is, e.g. to create awareness. To tell your story? To be at peace? The following are some basic goals of trauma therapy;

  • To eliminate symptoms of trauma and boost day-to-day functioning thus successfully handle one’s reality of the traumatic event that occurred in the past.
  • To educate people on hereditary trauma and thus help them get over their addictions caused by traumatic stress-induced experiences.
  • Helping individuals regain their power and equip them with skills to help prevent deterioration or relapse after treatment.

Compassionate Treatment For Trauma

It is helpful to acknowledge that you are dealing with trauma and want to get help for yourself. If you know a close friend or family member suffering from any form of trauma or addiction do not hesitate to seek help. Call our trained professionals today so we can help you overcome the trauma you have experienced.

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Medical Advice Disclaimer

Magnified Health Systems aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

Picture of This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.

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