Psychlogical Trauma Mental Health

Psychological trauma

Psychological trauma

A psychological trauma is an event that massively overwhelms the integration of perceptions,  feelings and thoughts triggered thereby. By destroying inner cohesion, fear and helplessness are flooding us and override our defenses.
(On the other hand, loneliness, worry and tension, if they become permanent, can lead to exhaustion.)

Phase progression of a psychological trauma

A psychological trauma usually follows a certain chronological sequence:

  1. Shock reaction to crisis,
  2. futile mobilization of problem-solving strategies,
  3. mental lability / development of complaints / decompensation,
  4. the crisis subsides.

- Psychological trauma

According to ICD-10, trauma consequences are classified as an acute stress response (post-traumatic stress disorder) and as adjustment disorders.

F43 Reaction to severe stress, and adjustment disorders

Acute stress reaction

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Adjustment disorders

Other reactions to severe stress

Reaction to severe stress, unspecified

Psychological trauma: reactions to severe stress and adjustment disorders

These reactions differ from others by the existence of one or other of two causative influences:

  • an exceptionally stressful life event producing an acute stress reaction, or
  • a significant life change leading to continued unpleasant circumstances that result in an adjustment disorder.

They can be viewed as adjustment disorders because they hinder successful coping strategies and therefore lead to problems of social functioning.

Psychological trauma – treatment

Psychological trauma requires treatment, especially with acute stress reactions and with

  • previously not mentally ill patients under threatening (extreme) stress, and
  • patients with severe neurotic, psychosomatic and personality disorders.

On the other hand, family or friends or even having fun with a task can create a stable emotional basis for successful coping.


Laux G. Crisis intervention and “trauma therapy. In: Möller H, Laux G, Deister A et al., Ed. Duale Serie Psychiatrie, Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie. 6th updated edition. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2015. doi: 10.1055 / b-003-120842

Paul L. Janssen, Peter Joraschky, Wolfgang Tress (ed.): Guide to Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy. Oriented to the further training guidelines of the Federal Medical Association. Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag, Cologne, 2nd edition 2009.

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