Trauma is a term that describes an emotional, physical, and psychological response to an extremely stressful event that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. Examples of traumatic events include:
Experiencing the sudden, unexplained death of a child is not simply a loss – it is both a loss and a trauma.
Sometimes in the aftermath of a trauma, an individual can develop symptoms that can linger for several months or even years. Often, a person develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, in the wake of a trauma.
The criteria for PTSD includes:
To qualify for a PTSD diagnosis, symptoms must be present for at least one month. Prior to one month, if some or all of the above symptoms are present, this is generally diagnosed as Acute Stress Disorder.
The information above is for educational purposes only. If you think you may be experiencing PTSD, it’s important to consult with an experienced therapist, clinician, psychiatrist, social worker, or psychologist who can accurately diagnose you and discuss options for treatment.
For more information on trauma and PTSD, visit The National Center for PTSD.
While families have experienced the trauma of child loss, there is also the potential for long-term growth. Post-Traumatic Growth is a term that describes the positive changes that can occur after experiencing a trauma. Though a trauma can negatively alter our thoughts about ourselves and the world, Post-Traumatic Growth describes how these changes can also be positive.
Recognizing the internal strengths and growth process in an individual should never minimize the pain of the trauma experienced. In fact, we often have to handle both simultaneously even years after the trauma has occurred.
For more information on Post-Traumatic Growth, please visit the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Psychology’s page on Post-Traumatic Growth.