Trauma is a term used to describe the challenging emotional consequences that living through a distressing event can have for an individual. Traumatic events can be difficult to define because the same event may be more traumatic for some people than for others.
However, traumatic events experienced early in life, such as abuse, neglect and disrupted attachment, can often be devastating. Equally challenging can be later life experiences that are out of one’s control, such as a serious accident, being the victim of violence, living through a natural disaster or war, or sudden unexpected loss.
When thoughts and memories of the traumatic event don’t go away or get worse, they may lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can seriously disrupt a person’s ability to regulate their emotions and maintain healthy relationships.