Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma symptoms are a normal reaction to abnormal events.


Trauma is often a nonspecific risk factor in the development or exacerbation of a host of mental health diagnoses.


Other common diagnoses

Depression is the most common diagnosis associated with trauma, but anxiety, eating disorders, addictions and dissociative disorders can also be associated with trauma.   If an individual has more than one diagnosis, it is even more likely that they experienced trauma.

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Despite the prevalence of trauma, there is only one diagnosis in the DSM5 that includes trauma in the name and as an aspect of the illness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD was added to the DSM in 1980.


Key issues related to PTSD

Some key issues with the diagnosis of PTSD are that it overlaps with many other disorders.  Also, there is no clear definition of a traumatic event.  Different people react differently to traumatic stress-- not all develop PTSD. and some develop PTSD from events not usually considered to be traumatic such as loss of a loved one.  The diagnosis of PTSD focuses on fear, which belies the fact that many other difficult emotions are associated with trauma --- shame, guilt, anger, sadness, disgust, to name a few.