Reactions to traumatic events by KRTraumaSupport


an overview of reactions to traumatic events

More Info
									                PTSD information sheet 1: Reactions to Traumatic Events

Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)
Post Traumatic Stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. This does not make it
pleasant! Symptoms are wide ranging in their frequency and intensity and include changes
in how we think, feel and act as well as physical changes in our bodies. Symptoms normally
reduce naturally and should have greatly subsided 4 weeks following the event.

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)*
Symptoms are similar to PTS but are intense and greatly affect the person’s daily functioning

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)*
PTSD is a longer term condition which may result from an exposure to a traumatic event.
The traumatic event is one that is closely associated with threatened or actual physical
injury or death and produces intense fear, horror or helplessness.
PTSD is identified by three characteristic clusters of symptoms:
     Intrusive recollections of the trauma
     Physiological arousal
     Numbing / withdrawal / avoidance
Symptoms often develop immediately after the traumatic event but will have lasted at least
a month before a diagnosis of PTSD is made. The onset of symptoms may be delayed in
around 15% of people.

Some people may also become depressed following the critical incident. Signs of depression
include low mood, plus
    • Decreased appetite
    • Decreased energy
    • Decreased sleep (early morning waking)
    • Decreased libido

Cumulative trauma
Cumulative trauma is also known as complex PTSD. It is a chronic form of PTSD commonly
arising following a series of traumatic events which the individual has not been able to
assimilate. Symptoms are similar to those present in PTSD but the traumatic experiences
may appear lesser in intensity to the one-off traumatic event usually associated with a
traumatic stress reaction.

    For more information on psychological trauma, visit

                          follow the blog

                            or twitter at
    *American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th edn) Washington, DC: APA.
                                                    © KR Trauma Support 2011

To top