Trauma refers to a single event or series of events that are psychologically overwhelming.

Some examples of traumatic events include:

  • Sexual violence and abuse
  • Emotional/physical abuse
  • Bullying
  • Death of a loved one
  • Experiencing or witnessing life-threatening events

The effects of trauma on an individual can persist over many years and its effects may be delayed by lengthy periods of times. At times, individuals can identify the trauma and the impact it had on their lives; however, often when trauma occurs early in life this may not always be the case.

Signs and symptoms

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability, anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Guilt and self-blame
  • Difficulty concentrating


Treatment options vary and are specific to each individual.

Reactions to different types of traumatic events can be wide and varied. These reactions can differ in severity levels from person to person and can sometimes increase the occurrence of other mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental condition triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. People are more likely to develop PTSD if their response to a traumatic event involves intense fear, helplessness or horror. Symptoms may include those for trauma above and:

  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance of anything that would serve as a reminder.
  • Nightmares
  • Severe anxiety as well as uncontrollable thoughts.
  • Emotional numbing (can continue for long periods of time).
  • Reduced interest in the outside world.