Trauma Disorders and Mental Health - Seeker's Thoughts

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Trauma Disorders and Mental Health


Trauma disorders are mental health conditions that  are caused by traumatic experience/s. Trauma is subjective, but common examples that may trigger a disorder include abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, losing a loved one, or being in a natural disaster. 

Trauma disorder causes extreme fear, anxiety, depression, outbursts, flashbacks, and other symptoms that can cause significant impairment. 


There are several types of trauma, all characterized by the fact that some type of trauma is the underlying cause. 

Trauma is a subjective experience, so while one event may be easy for one person to cope with, it can be very traumatic for another. Examples of trauma include abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence, losing a loved one, a car accident, or sexual assault.

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Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is an illness that affects people who have experienced a traumatic event like a serious accident, sexual assault or other violent crime, natural disaster, or military combat.

PTSD can also affect those who witness a traumatic event or learn that a family member or close friend experienced a traumatic event.

 PTSD is part of a group of mental illnesses called trauma- and stress or-related disorders.



Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)

ASD is similar to PTSD, and it is also triggered by trauma the reaction to trauma in ASD is sudden and much briefer than in PTSD.

 It may last between a few days and one month, while the symptoms of PSTD persist for more than a month.


Adjustment Disorders (AD)

 Adjustment disorders cause excessive reactions to stressful or difficult experiences, like a death in the family or loss of a relationship. 

The stress in response to such a situation is greater than what would be expected and indicates a poor ability to cope. 

There are six types of AD, each characterized by dominant symptoms: anxiety, depression, anxiety, and depression together, inappropriate behaviors, inappropriate behaviors with depression and anxiety, and unspecified.



Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

RAD occurs rarely but is seen in children who fail to develop a healthy attachment to a parent or caregiver. This occurs when the child’s needs aren’t met. 

This neglect is a type of trauma. Babies or children with RAD may be withdrawn, sad, afraid, listless, and un-engaged with others.

                               
Dis inhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)

Similar to RAD, this is an attachment disorder that affects children who have been neglected or otherwise traumatized. 

The symptoms are less severe than RAD, but DSED does make it difficult for a child to develop relationships or to engage in inappropriate ways.


Other and Unspecified Trauma- and Stress-or-Related Disorders

A psychiatrist may diagnose someone as having other or unspecified disorders in this category if the person has some but not all the symptoms of one of the specific condition, or if there is not enough information to make a more specific diagnosis



What is trauma?

Trauma is any scary or distributing situation or event. This includes:

A disaster like earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, or flooding. Serious accidents, like industrial accidents or car accidents. Frightening health concerns, like a sudden a serious illness or major surgery. 

 Other crimes that harm, like a robbery or kidnapping. Physical sexual violence, abuse, or threat of violence. War, conflict, or terrorism, either as a bystander or as someone in a military role.


Who and how does it affect?

PTSD is much more common in women, with 10% experiencing it as compared to 4% of men. 

Women may be more vulnerable because of higher rates of sexual and domestic violence, between 15 and 25% of women have experienced sexual abuse.

Traumatic experiences are linked to a greater mental illness, substance abuse, and risky behaviours that can cause injuries or death. Trauma increases the risk of suicide.

People who work with others who have experienced trauma such as medical and mental health professionals may also experience PTSD.


The severity of the trauma you experienced. More intense traumas are more likely to lead to PTSD, especially when you fear for your life, are injured, or the trauma involves a loved one. PTSD is more common in certain kinds of trauma, including sexual assault and military combat.


Experiencing dissociation during or after trauma. Dissociation means that you feel separated from reality, like the environment around you isn’t real.


Not enough social support after experiencing trauma. The right supports can make a real difference in helping people cope with trauma.



Dealing with additional stress after trauma, such as losing a loved one, losing your home, or recovering from physical injuries.




Additional challenges you've experienced or continue to experience, such as another mental illness, low income, racism, or other forms of discrimination.



Symptoms of Post Trauma stress disorder

-       Emotional numbness or withdrawal, feeling nothing, finding difficult to connect with other people.


-       Memory problem, concentration, or sleep.

-       Avoiding things that remind you of the traumatic event.

-       Feeling angry or irritable.

-       Blaming yourself for the event of believing that everything must be very dangerous.

-       Anxiety and fear, especially when confronted with events or situations that remind you of the trauma.

-       Feeling anger, guilt shame, or other strong negative emotions.



-       Feeling on guard or excessively vigilant.


-       Distressing or frightening thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares about the event.

-       Low mood, despair, or hopelessness.



What can be complications?

Having a trauma disorder may increase the risk of having other mental illnesses or a substance use disorder.

 Someone with a trauma disorder, especially when it is undiagnosed or untreated, may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and escape from negative feelings.

 This can lead to a substance use disorder. People with trauma disorders are also more likely to have other mental illnesses, either triggered or worsened by the trauma or simply because they have similar risk factors to trauma disorders.

Experiencing trauma and being unable to cope with it in healthy ways may also predispose someone to suicide. 

Anyone with a trauma disorder may be vulnerable to suicidal thoughts, but those with severe symptoms or who are not receiving treatment may be at the greatest risk.

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Treatments and diagnosis

Self-management techniques are small strategies and skills you practice on your own to improve well-being.

 For example include learning how to manage stress effectively, practicing psychotherapy skills, eating as well as you can, exercising every day, getting enough sleep, seeking social support, and managing substance use. 

Talk to your mental health care team or close friends for more ideas and suggestions to help.


Other than self-management psychotherapy is an effective treatment and often the first treatment to try. There are several different types of therapy that can help:

Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy (TF-CBT) is most often recommended for PTSD. TF-CBT is a form of cognitive-behavioural therapy that specifically addresses trauma.

 It focuses on educating people so they understand trauma and PTSD and the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours as well as teaching people healthy ways to cope and helping people process their traumatic experiences. 

TF-CBT also includes approaches like exposure therapy.


Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps people talk about their trauma and begin to do things they avoid as a result of trauma.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) involves thinking about trauma while noticing sensations like eye movements or tapping. It helps people reduce distress around trauma and process traumatic memories.

Antidepressant medications may help reduce anxiety over time and may help manage sleep, mood, or other problems that go along with PTSD.
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