Trauma affects everyone differently. For some people, trauma can impact them in a way that results in the development of a mental health condition.

When left undiagnosed and unmanaged, these trauma-related disorders can wreak havoc on our lives. Trauma can (and often does) wound us far deeper than we think it does; disassociation and numbness can blur our awareness of the trauma’s impact, but it’s still there.

In this article, we’re going to discuss trauma-related disorders, as well as how to identify these in yourself or a loved one so that you can begin your recovery journey.

What is a trauma disorder?

A trauma disorder is a mental health condition that develops as the result of a traumatic experience. A traumatic experience does not always result in a mental health condition, though.

The concept of trauma itself is relatively subjective because we all have different backgrounds and experiences. This is why it’s important to not dismiss the potential cause of an individual’s mental health condition, because what traumatizes someone else might not traumatize you.

Despite this subjectivity, there are specific traumas that have been recognized to directly correlate to the development of a mental health condition. These traumas include violence, neglect, abuse, losing a loved one, witnessing abuse or violence, torture, being in an accident, as well as being impacted by natural disasters.

These traumas can happen to men and women of all ages including children and the elderly, and the severity of the traumatic impact will vary per person. One of the potential impacts of these traumas is the development of a traumatic disorder.

Different trauma disorders

There are six universally recognized trauma disorders: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD), second-hand trauma, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) and adjustment disorders.

PTSD is one of the most common disorders and this disorder alone affects millions of people every year. Symptoms can include intrusive thoughts and dreams, avoiding loved ones and social events, as well as depression and aggressive outbursts.

ASD is similar to PTSD, except it does not extend for as long. Where PTSD symptoms can take months to develop and last for years, ASD symptoms will manifest immediately and typically last only a few months.

Second-hand trauma — also known as trauma exposure secondary traumatic stress disorder — is when you’re directly exposed to someone else’s trauma. Second-hand trauma can affect anyone, but is commonly recognized in those who work with trauma victims, such as first responders, police officers, therapists, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

RAD occurs in children who are prevented from forming genuine, stable connections with a caregiver or guardian figure. This commonly affects children in foster care, who are constantly transplanted into new homes and new families.

DSED has the same root cause as RAD, but is recognized by its distinct, dangerous symptom of causing children to practice culturally illogical behavior. The most common manifestation of this behavior is that of exhibiting a deep familiarity with strangers, to the extent of getting into their car without question, or “allowing” themselves to be taken away.

Adjustment disorders are often triggered by a stressful life event such as a career change, divorce, death of a loved one, or the diagnosis of an illness. This disorder is usually transitory, lasting a bit longer than the event itself; some people are able to recover on their own, but others need professional support to rebalance their mental and emotional health.

Signs and symptoms

Standard symptoms of a trauma-related disorder can be placed in four different categories: intrusion symptoms, avoidance symptoms, negative alterations and hyper-arousal symptoms.

Intrusion symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, sudden memories, and aggressive or suicidal thought patterns.

Avoidance symptoms can range from avoiding talking about the incident all the way to avoiding entire environments, people, and locations that have any association with the trauma.

Negative alterations can include withdrawing from social activities, emotional numbness, depression, and having a cynical view of oneself or the world.

Hyper-arousal symptoms can include self-destructive behaviors, sudden aggressive outbursts, being easily startled or frightened, and difficulty sleeping or relaxing.

If you think you or someone you love may be struggling with a trauma-related disorder, seek professional help (or encourage them to do so) as soon as possible. When left untreated, mental health conditions can manifest in harmful and even potentially fatal behaviors.

Reach out for professional help

There is no timeline to healing from trauma, so regardless of whether your experience was this last week, last month, or four years ago, we’re here to help.

At Silvermist Recovery, we offer treatments for both mental health and trauma disorders. 

Our mental health programs are designed to treat you as a whole person, not merely a condition; our curriculums are comprehensive and customizable for your needs.

We take a neuroscience approach to trauma treatment, and a multi-faceted approach to your individual recovery, ensuring that you always receive the highest level of care.

Our personal admissions specialists are available 24/7, so reach out to us. We’re here to help.

Submit a form or call us anytime at 724-268-4858.