Trauma is an emotional reaction to a distressing event that was perceived as either life-threatening or overwhelming. Traumatic events can include events such as war, rape, assault, a terminal Illness diagnosis, and accidents, as well as the loss of a home, job or loved one. Even intentional life changes can be experienced as traumatic such as moving, marriage, divorce and the birth of a child. Typical reactions to trauma may include feelings of numbness, depression, anxiety, feeling on-guard, irritable, dissociative and having difficulty concentrating and sleeping.
Acute stress disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorder and Other Specified Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder are the main diagnoses for adults related to Trauma listed in the DSM-V. In children, trauma is usually diagnosed as Reactive Attachment Disorder or Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.
A useful mnemonic to help recall the symptoms of a trauma disorder is DREAMS:
Detachment from emotions and people
Reexperiencing of the traumatic events in nightmares, flashbacks and recollections
Event involved substantial emotional distress, with threatened death or loss of physical integrity, and feelings of helplessness or disabling fear
Avoidance of people, places or things that remind you of the event
One Month of symptoms
Sympathetic hyperactivity or hyper-vigilance, which may include insomnia, irritability and difficulty concentrating
When diagnosing a traumatic reaction, timing is everything. Immediately after a traumatic event has occurred a person may suffer from an expected Acute Stress Reaction (ASR) which includes most of the symptoms listed above. If these symptoms persist for at least 3 days and up to one month pursuant to the traumatic event, then the individual is considered to suffer from Acute Stress Disorder. In Posttraumatic Stress, the symptoms persist for longer than one month following a traumatic event.
Emotional stress can also occur from more simple life changes such as separation, job stress, and new roles which may evoke a stressful response. For instance, a person who is experiencing work related conflict may experience emotional stress which may impact her/his functioning in a negative way. This type of stress reaction is diagnosed under the category of Adjustment Disorders.
Clients suffering from traumatic and stress-related disorders may feel that their sense of security and competency has been diminished which, over time can lead to greater distress and depression. For this reason therapists at NYC Therapy Group believe that after a traumatic and or stress-related event it is important to reach out for help. The earlier the traumatized person receives psychological support the better the outcome is likely to be. We believe that the therapeutic relationship is the foundation of any therapeutic process. Our goal in treatment is to use the therapeutic relationship to assist the client in: obtaining a sense of safety and connection to the world, tap into inner strengths, process the traumatic event and gain a new sense of mastery and growth as a result of the stressful event. We believe that we have the right knowledge and expertise to help you overcome the trauma and stress you have experienced.