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Psychological trauma is damage to a person's mind as a result of one or more events that cause overwhelming amounts of stress that exceed the person's ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.

Traumatic events exceed a person’s ability to cope because they are unpredictable and sudden. They often involve or could potentially involve serious injuries or threats to life. Traumatic events are considered traumatic as they undermine a person’s sense of safety.

  • Types of Traumatic Events
    • Interpersonal violence
    • Accidents
    • Natural disasters
    • Military combat
    • Unexpected losses
  • Types of Trauma
    • Acute – single events that do not repeat
      • Sexual assault, car accident, sudden loss
    • Chronic – repeated and prolonged events
      • Domestic violence, bullying, childhood neglect, etc.
    • Complex – repeated and prolonged events without possibility of escape
    • Secondary – exposure to a traumatic event from a support person
      • Parents, friends, dating partners, first responders, physicians
  • Effects of Trauma

    People respond to trauma differently. There is no right or wrong way to cope.

    Immediate effects can include:

    • Shock
    • Nightmares
    • Flashbacks
    • Difficulty eating
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Heightened startle response
    • Isolating from loved ones
    • Headaches
    • Nausea

    Long-term effects can include:

    • Disassociation – out-of-body experiences
    • Intrusive thoughts
    • Emotional numbing
    • Hypervigilance
    • Negative beliefs about self and/or the world
    • Difficulty remembering the event
    • Self-blame
    • Intrusive memories
Student Health Services
Student Health Services | Redfern Health Center, 735 McMillan Road, Clemson, SC 29634