Definition of Trauma. Its Types, Symptoms, Treatments And Tips.

In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological and emotional response to an event or experience that is deeply distressing or unsettling, when applied loosely, this definition can refer to something upsetting, such as being involved in an accident, having an illness or injury, losing a loved one, or getting divorced. However, it can also go to the extreme and include experiences that are severely harmful, such as rape or torture.

We all process a traumatic event differently because we all deal with it through the lens of previous experiences in our lives. For example, one person might be fearful after going through a hurricane, but another person might have lost their family and barely escaped a house that was flooded during the hurricane. In this case, a minor hurricane can bring back traumatic memories of your terrifying experience.

Types of trauma

Sexual assault or rape

Involves any unwanted and involuntary sexual behavior towards a person, the victim is forced to participate in an act against their will in a non-consensual environment. Sexual assault can include rape, groping, force kissing, and any other type of harassment or abuse in a sexual context. Full content of violation. (Required item)

Child abuse


It occurs when a parent or caregiver does not give a child the care that he or she needs based on his age, even if the adult can pay for that care or is offered help to provide it. Neglect can mean the lack of provision of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, mental health treatment, education or proper supervision of a child or the exposure of a child to dangerous environments. Neglect is the most common form of abuse reported to child welfare authorities. Learn more about negligence. (Required item)

Physical abuse

It has to do with causing physical pain or injury, this includes hitting, kicking, burning or injuring a child in any way. Injury can also occur when a punishment is not appropriate for a child’s age or condition. Here more content about physical abuse. (Required item)

Sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an adult. Alternatively, it can take place between a child and another child and / or adolescent if force or manipulation is involved or if there is a five-year age difference between the children. Behaviors that are sexually abusive involve bodily contact, such as sexual kissing, fondling, touching genitals, and sexual intercourse.

However, the behaviors can be sexually abusive, even if they do not involve contact, such as genital exposure, verbal pressure for sex, and sexual exploitation, such as pornography. 

Read more information about sexual abuse. (Required item)

Emotional abuse / psychological abuse

Acts against a child that caused or could have caused a behavior disorders cognitive, emotional or other mental disorders , such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, excessive demands in performance of a child can lead to a negative self – image, and disturbed behavior. Acts of omission, such as emotional neglect or intentional social deprivation, are also considered emotional abuse. If you want to know more, enter into psychological abuse. (Required item)

Domestic violence

It is classified as actual or threatened physical violence, sexual violence and / or emotional abuse between adults in an intimate relationship. Read more about domestic violence. (Required item)

School and community violence

It includes predatory violence or personal conflicts between people who are not members of the family (for example, shootings, rape, robbery). More information on school violence. (Required item)

medical trauma

Children can show traumatic reactions to medical conditions, invasive medical procedures, or treatments that are scary or cause serious pain, injury, and / or illness. Learn in depth about medical trauma. (Required item)

Traumatic loss

Traumatic grief or loss can occur after the death of someone important to a child or adult. Death is typically sudden and unexpected. Full content on traumatic loss. (Required item)

Natural disasters

Any natural catastrophe (for example, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes) that causes enough damage for federal, state, or local agencies and disaster relief organizations to spring into action. Learn more about natural disaster trauma. (Required item)


Torture has been defined by the United Nations as “any act by which  pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a  person for purposes such as obtaining information from him or from a third person , punishing him for a act that has been committed or is suspected  of having committed or intimidated him or a third person. Learn more about torture. (Required item)

Large scale transportation accidents

Accidents involve events such as airline crashes, trains,  and maritime accidents (eg, ships). These events  involve multiple victims and high mortality rates, although the incidence of

Such events are not easily determined. Transportation accidents can be especially traumatic for survivors, as such events frequently occur over a relatively long period of time during which victims are exposed to continuous terror and fear of death . More content on transportation accident trauma. (Required item)

Trauma symptoms

Many people have strong emotional or physical reactions after experiencing a traumatic event. For most, these reactions subside within a few days or weeks.

For some, symptoms may last longer and be more severe, this may be due to several factors, such as the nature of the traumatic event, the level of support available, past and current life stress , personality, and coping resources.

Symptoms of trauma can be described as physical, cognitive (thinking), behavioral (things we do), and emotional.

Physical symptoms

They can include excessive alertness (always on the lookout for danger signs), easily startled, tired / exhausted, sleep disturbances, general aches and pains.

Cognitive symptoms

They can include intrusive thoughts and memories of the event, visual images of the event, nightmares , poor concentration and memory , disorientation, and confusion. Behavioral symptoms can include avoiding places or activities that are reminders of the event, social withdrawal, and loss of interest in normal activities.

Emotional symptoms

They can include fear, numbness and detachment, depression , guilt, anger and irritability, anxiety and panic As long as they are not too severe or do not last too long, the symptoms described above are normal reactions to trauma, although they can be distressing, they will resolve quickly in the most people. They are part of the natural healing process of adjusting to a very powerful event, having some sense of what happened, and putting it in perspective.

With the understanding and support of family, friends, and colleagues, symptoms generally resolve more quickly. A minority of people will develop more serious conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, or problems with alcohol and drugs.

Trauma treatment

Specially trained mental health professionals can assess the unique needs of the survivor and plan treatment specifically for them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

It teaches the person to be more aware of their thoughts and beliefs about their trauma and gives them the skills to help them react to emotional triggers in a healthier way. Complete content on cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Exposure therapy

It is a form of cognitive behavior therapy used to reduce fear associated with emotional triggers caused by trauma. Learn more about exposure therapy. (Required item)

psychodynamic therapy

It is a method of verbal communication that is used to help a person find relief from emotional pain and to strengthen the adaptive ways of handling the problem that the individual already has. Read more about psychodynamic therapy.

Tips for recovering from trauma

There are several ways you can help take care of yourself after a traumatic event or situation:

  • Acknowledge that you have been through a distressing experience and give yourself permission to have a reaction to it.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or other drugs to cope
  • Avoid making important decisions or changes in life
  • Don’t try to block out thoughts about what happened, gradually dealing with these thoughts will help you come to terms with the traumatic experience.
  • Share your experiences with others when opportunities arise – it can feel uncomfortable at times, but talking to people you trust rather than suppressing your feelings is helpful in dealing with trauma.
  • Try to maintain a normal routine, keep busy, and structure your day.
  • Remember that regular exercise is important, but allow yourself time to rest if you are tired, do not unnecessarily avoid certain activities or places.
  • Take time to practice relaxation, use a formal technique, such as progressive muscle relaxation, or just take time to absorb yourself in a relaxing activity, such as gardening or music.

If the trauma shakes up memories or feelings of an unrelated past event, try not to let all the memories get confused, keep the memories separate and treat them separately, express your feelings as they arise, discuss with someone else, or write them down in a daily as expressing feelings often helps the healing process.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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