Shock Trauma & Developmental Trauma
Trauma is a fact of life, but does not have to be a life sentence.
- Peter Levine
Trauma falls into two classifications – shock trauma and developmental trauma. They can overlap or occur separately and can have many different faces. Duration and approach to treatment between shock and developmental trauma are different. Generally treatment for shock trauma tends to be shorter than for developmental trauma.
Shock trauma results from feeling overwhelmed usually by a one off event. Most of the time this is a sudden and unexpected event with a distinct beginning and end. This interrupts the flow of life and often is accompanied by a “frozen” response throughout the event. This can create some level of dissociation together with emotional and physical numbness. The person also can feel as though their world has suddenly fallen apart or shattered. Shock trauma can be experienced as anxiety or mania to be followed by a crashing perceived as depression. This alteration in moods and behaviour may appear like manic-depressive or bipolar disorder.
Some examples of shock trauma are:
Falls, accidents, assault, near drowning, natural disaster, invasive medical procedures, witnessing of violence. First responders, policemen and similar professions can be exposed to shock trauma.
Some symptoms of shock trauma can include:
Rage, panic attacks, depression, exhaustion, withdrawal from family and friends, sense of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, disturbing memories or flashbacks, hypervigilance and a sense of needing to be on guard even in the absence of a threat.