Chronic vs. Acute Trauma

Chronic vs. Acute TraumaTrauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can cause physical injury or emotional shock. Surviving or witnessing a traumatic experience can be difficult to cope with physically and emotionally. Some individuals develop severe symptoms or a mental illness called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a few different types of trauma, and understanding the differences can better illustrate possible needs and routes for healing, treatment and recovery.

What Is Acute Trauma?

Acute trauma is caused by a single traumatic event that causes extreme emotional or physical stress. Common examples of acute trauma include the following:

Experiencing a traumatic event, even it if it just a onetime occurrence, can be terrifying. The thoughts of fear, terror and helplessness can be overwhelming. If left untreated, acute trauma can progress into acute stress disorder, PTSD and other mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders and more.

What Is Chronic Trauma?

Chronic trauma happens when an individual experiences multiple traumatic instances. This form of trauma can be a longstanding event such as reoccurring physical or sexual abuse, neglect or combat experience. Chronic trauma can also result from a buildup of multiple traumatic experiences throughout one’s life. An individual may have experienced a natural disaster, assault and a serious accident at different times in their life. The consequences of chronic trauma are usually more severe, because one traumatic experience brings back old feelings and issues associated with another. Victims of chronic trauma often live destructive, reckless and uncontrollable lives.

Does Your Loved One Need Help After Experiencing a Traumatic Event?

Trauma is a serious issue, no matter if it is acute or chronic. Any trauma can lead to the development of more severe disorders. Chronic trauma survivors may require more in-depth or long-term treatment because their experience has been part of their life for so long. Those exposed to chronic trauma are more likely to have built-up walls and deep-rooted scars. These individuals are often in denial or resistant to the idea of getting help, making for lengthy healing and treatment process.

While most individuals will have a difficult time coping with a traumatic event, some will find healthy ways to respond and eventually the stress and pain will decrease. Individuals in need of professional help for trauma will not be able to cope with the stress, and the negative symptoms will worsen. Symptoms of trauma disorders may include the following:

  • Severe anxiety, nervousness or paranoia
  • Inability to experience joy or pleasure
  • Emotional detachment
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Persistent flashbacks, images, thoughts, nightmares or episodes of reliving the event
  • Avoidance of people, places, events and things that serve as reminders of the traumatic event

Find Professional Help for Acute or Chronic Trauma and PTSD

Speak with a professional about finding treatment help for PTSD, acute or chronic trauma. Call our toll-free helpline now, as a professional counselor is ready to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counselors can assist you with all of your questions and concerns and provide you with all the information you need to find effective treatment and help. Don’t let traumatic experiences define your life. Pick up the phone today.