What is Trauma?

Traumas are emotionally overwhelming, highly upsetting events that may involve actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence [1].

  • 61 – 85% of males and 50 – 77% of females will be exposed to trauma at some point in their lives [2] [3] [4].
  • People’s reactions to traumatic events range from relatively mild distress that is fleeting to severe disruptions that make it difficult or impossible to function.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative disorders are mental health diagnoses associated with traumatic stress reactions. There are many other disorders that are also associated with exposure to trauma in childhood or adulthood.
  • Many traumatized individuals have additional symptoms such as physical health problems (e.g., headaches, fatigue), anxiety, and difficulty trusting others. Learn more about problems associated with trauma here.

[1] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

[2] Kessler, R. C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., & Nelson, C. B. (1995). Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52(12), 1048-1060.

[3] Frans, Ö., Rimmö, P. A., Åberg, L., & Fredrikson, M. (2005). Trauma exposure and post‐traumatic stress disorder in the general population. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 111(4), 291-290.

[4] Creamer, M., Burgess, P., & McFarlane, A. C. (2001). Post-traumatic stress disorder: findings from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. Psychological Medicine, 31(07), 1237-1247.