Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are mental health conditions that develop after one is exposed to extreme stressors or trauma. Trauma-related disorders can develop immediately after you suffer a trauma or much later.
Traumas and stressors that could lead to developing a trauma-related disorder include being a victim of crime; serving in a war or as a first responder; enduring a natural disaster or terrorist attack; surviving an accident or tragedy; overcoming domestic or childhood abuse; or going through any event beyond your control that is frightening, gory, or dangerous.
Some of the more common trauma-related disorders include:
- Reactive attachment disorder
- Disinhibited social engagement disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Acute stress disorder
- Adjustment disorders
Symptoms of Trauma-Related Disorders
Many trauma-related disorders have similar symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one after experiencing a traumatic event, even a long time after the event, speak to your doctor about it. Some symptoms of trauma disorders include:
- Nightmares or night terrors - awakening in the night from dreams of your traumatic experience
- Having flashbacks to your traumatic experience
- Discovering that certain smells, sounds, tastes, or other sensory input can bring back memories of your trauma
- Reacting violently or with extreme fear in situations that don’t warrant that response
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others - call 911 immediately
- Excessive anxiety or worry, even in spaces and situations where you know that you are safe
- A persistent feeling of loss or feeling guilty that you survived instead of others
- Trouble forming or maintaining relationships with friends, family, or partners
- Participating in dangerous behaviors especially relating to sex, alcohol, and drugs
- A constant feeling of being on alert or being unable to relax
Causes and Risk Factors for Trauma-Related Disorders
Trauma-related disorders are caused by suffering and surviving a traumatic incident. People of any age can be affected by a trauma-related disorder. Some factors that could make you more likely to develop a trauma-related disorder include:
- Surviving a trauma, especially if you suffered an injury or loss during the traumatic event
- A prior history or family history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders
- Working in a stressful environment like a hospital or military service
- Escaping abuse or mistreatment like domestic abuse, childhood abuse or torture
- Suffering a traumatic brain injury
- Changes in the way that your brain chemistry functions
Treatment for Trauma-Related Disorders
A good care team can help you find the medication, therapeutic options, and supportive resources that you need to treat your trauma-related disorder.
Medication: Medication can be an important help in overcoming your trauma-related disorder. Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and other medications can help control some of your symptoms. Speak with a medical professional to learn more about medications.
Therapy: Therapy can help you learn coping mechanisms and how to recognize your triggers. Find the right care option for you at Sheppard Pratt.
Education: Learning more about trauma-related disorders, anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues can help you and your family cope. See our Knowledge Center to find helpful information.
Support: Getting to know the right support group can be an essential part of learning to live with your condition. Find a support group at Sheppard Pratt.