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: 

Symptoms

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

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

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.