It includes disorders in which exposure to traumatic or stressful events take place, these include reactive attachment disorder, disinhibited social engagement disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorders.
Reactive Attachment Disorder of infancy or early childhood is characterised by a pattern of markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate attachment behaviours, in which a child rarely or minimally turns preferentially to an attachment figure for comfort, support, protection, and nurturance.
The essential feature is absent or grossly underdeveloped attachment between the child and putative caregiving adults. Children show diminished or absent expression of positive emotions of fear, sadness, or irritability that are not readily explained.
The disorder has been found in young children exposed to severe neglect before being placed in foster care or raised in institutions. However, even in populations of severely neglected children, the disorder is uncommon, occurring in less than 10% of such children.
Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder is a pattern of behaviour that involves culturally inappropriate, overly familiar behaviour with relative strangers. This overly familiar behaviour violates the social boundaries of the culture. Because of the shared etiological association with social neglect, disinhibited social engagement disorder may co-occur with developmental delays, especially cognitive and language delays, stereotypies, and other signs of severe neglect, such as malnutrition or poor care. The prevalence is not known but the disorder appears to be rare.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristics symptoms of following exposure to one or more traumatic events. An individual may experience this as emotionally or physically harmful or life-threatening and may affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being.
Examples include natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war/combat, rape/sexual assault, historical trauma, intimate partner violence and bullying. People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended.
They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD in adolescents ages 13 -18 is 8%. An estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups – U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans/Alaska Natives – are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.
Acute Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms lasting from 3 days to 1 month following exposure to one or more traumatic events. People with acute stress disorder may relive the trauma, have flashbacks or nightmares and may feel numb or detached from themselves.
These symptoms cause major distress and problems in their daily lives. About half of people with acute stress disorder go on to have PTSD. Acute stress disorder has been diagnosed in 19%-50% of individuals that experience interpersonal violence (e.g., rape, assault, intimate partner violence).
Adjustment Disorder the essential feature of this disorder is the presence of emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor. The stressor may be a single event, or there may be multiple stressors. Stressors may affect a single individual, an entire family, or a larger group or community.
Symptoms can include feeling tense, sad or hopeless; withdrawing from other people; acting defiantly or showing impulsive behaviour; or physical manifestations like tremors, palpitations, and headaches. The symptoms cause significant distress or problems functioning in key areas of someone’s life, for example, at work, school or in social interactions.
Symptoms of adjustment disorders begin within three months of a stressful event and last no longer than six months after the stressor or its consequences have ended. An estimated 5% to 20% of individuals in outpatient mental health treatment have a principal diagnosis of adjustment disorder. A recent study found that more than 15% of adults with cancer had adjustment disorder.
Trauma and stressor-related disorders can be caused by various factors and are often a result of exposure to traumatic events or prolonged stressful situations. Here are some common causes :
It’s important to note that individual vulnerability factors, such as genetics, temperament, previous trauma history, and available support systems, can influence an individual’s susceptibility to developing trauma and stressor-related disorders. Additionally, the severity, duration, and proximity of the traumatic or stressful events can impact the likelihood of developing such disorders.
The treatment for trauma and stressor-related disorders focuses on addressing the psychological and emotional impact of traumatic experiences. Here are some common approaches used in the treatment of these disorders :