Trauma and Related Disorders

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are caused by exposure to a traumatic or stressful event. Everyone responds to trauma differently, and it's common to feel a range of different emotions. Two of the trauma-related disorders are acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, trauma and stressor-related disorders are categorised by symptoms that impact a person's ability to return to everyday life and when left untreated, can lead to social withdrawal and isolation, depression, substance use disorders and suicidal behaviour.

What are the related symptoms?

The symptoms of trauma and related disorders will depend on the severity of the trauma and its effect on the person. The two most common types of trauma disorders, ASD and PTSD, involve the following symptoms:

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is triggered by a traumatic or stressful event which is directly experienced or witnessed. Symptoms of ASD occur between 3 and 30 days after a traumatic experience and include fear, anxiety, flashbacks, avoidance of some situations that remind you of the event, feeling easily startled, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, self-destructive behaviours, aggressive outbursts and low mood. When symptoms persist beyond one month, they are typically diagnosed as PTSD. ASD does not always lead to PTSD, but it is a risk factor.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also triggered by a traumatic or stressful event but occurs after 30 days post-trauma. PTSD symptoms often include nightmares and flashbacks, obsessive thoughts about the event, detachment or withdrawal from society, negative thoughts about the world, fear and anxiety.

What can cause them to develop?

Of course, a trauma and related disorders are caused by an experience of trauma, but that does not mean everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop ASD or PTSD. Many times these disorders are caused by a combination of trauma and a range of environmental and genetic factors. A person who has previously experienced trauma, or has another mental health disorder, or is experiencing other stressful events will have a higher chance of developing these disorders. It is essential that those who feel they - or a friend of theirs - have recently faced a traumatic event seek help from a health professional – even if these symptoms aren't present. Coping with trauma is not something you need to deal with alone, and a mental health professional like Dr Chawane can make all the difference.

What are the possible treatment options?

Diagnosis of ASD or PTSD can only be made by a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you do seem to experience some of these symptoms after an incident you may not have previously deemed ‘traumatic' you should see a psychiatrist or psychologist for your own mental wellbeing as leaving these symptoms untreated can cause further pain and isolation.

After a proper evaluation, Dr Chawane may help plan the best treatment options specifically for you to help you cope after a traumatic event and help manage the symptoms of ASD or PTSD if diagnosed with either of these disorders. While Dr Chawane knows that it can be difficult to talk about a traumatic experience even when patients seek help, treatment of PTSD and ASD largely involve specialised, trauma-focused therapy. Medications for depression or anxiety may also be prescribed to help ease your symptoms.

In addition to treating ASD and PTSD, the experience of trauma and having a trauma disorder can increase the risk of developing another mental illness such as substance use disorder, depression or anxiety. Along with her multidisciplinary team, she can help you with therapeutic treatment and the lifestyle changes that may be needed to help you deal with your experience and your diagnosis.