Definition of a trauma

A traumatic situation is one involving an actual or threatened death or serious injury. Sometimes when people experience an event so terrible and frightening that it is difficult for most of us to imagine, they suffer from shock. This can happen after a one-time natural catastrophe like a hurricane or a flood or after an experience like seeing a bomb attack or seeing someone shot. Sometimes this kind of shock can happen when an unpleasant experience occurs time and time again in a child's life, like being beaten or sexually abused repeatedly. Particular signs of stress can occur after experiencing an event directly, from witnessing an event, or even hearing about such an event in regard to a family member. People who suffer from a prolonged reaction to such shock may be diagnosed as having Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.