Disorders in this category encompass the variety of unstable ways people react after suffering through stressful life events. Emotional, physical, and sexual trauma lead to difficulty regulating emotions, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and occasionally aggression.
What are Trauma and Stress Disorders?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most well recognized of the disorders in this category and describes emotional disturbances lasting for months or even years after a trauma. Acute Stress Disorder is similar to PTSD except that the symptoms occur immediately after trauma and last only up to one month.
People with these disorders suffer disturbing reminders of the trauma in the form of nightmares and intrusive thoughts. They can experience a dream-like state, where the surrounding world feels distant and unreal. Tension in the form of poor sleep, irritability, and generally feeling ‘on edge’ frequently plagues these patients. Patients also change their habits and daily rituals to avoid any possible reminders of the trauma, which leads to a life of seclusion.
Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder are the two childhood disorders in this category. Because these children are prevented from developing lasting emotional connections early on, those with Reactive Attachment Disorder have difficulty sharing their emotional needs with others as they mature. Similar early adversity prevents children with Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder from developing an awareness of “stranger danger”.
Who gets Trauma and Stress Disorders?
Neglect in children
The childhood disorders in this category result from severe neglect and a lack of caregivers who are available to bond with and support the emotional needs of children. This usually occurs in settings where the parents are absent emotionally due to their own issues or when children are removed from their families and placed in foster care or orphanages.
Some of the most common ways people experience violence first hand are through war, violent crime, and accidents. Witnessing death or injury or being the victim of severe injury are the core experiences of war, but these also strike emergency personnel and those who live in high-crime areas.
Sexual assault and rape
Women make up a significant group of trauma survivors because so many of them experience sexual assault or rape at some point in their lives.