Trauma and Stressor Disorders

Assessment and Treatment of Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

Traumatic experiences happen throughout life and can lead to difficult feelings.

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” ― Fred Rogers

Trauma can lead to various problems, including: 

  • Childhood behaviors that result from neglect or abuse
  • Child or adult post-traumatic stress responses after exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence to themselves or a family member or friend
  • Severe distress after a difficult situation that interferes with relationships, work, or other areas of life




We Provide An Evidence-Based Approach To Treatment

These problems often need a mental health professional to help resolve the residual effects. Treatment for children versus adults requires a unique approach depending on the patient and the severity of the symptoms. For example, childhood trauma resulting from neglect may lead children to act out by either avoiding adults or becoming irritable, sad, or fearful, even during everyday situations. Conversely, a child may become impulsive and be overly verbal or physically affectionate with a strange adult. 

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” –John F. Kennedy.

When something happens in a child’s life to disrupt their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, it has to be addressed through caring means. Life is not perfect, and sometimes things happen that need to be explored to gain further understanding and acceptance. Fortunately, children are flexible and able to heal. 

Sometimes traumatic events produce symptoms that contribute to long-term problems. It begins with something researchers call our ‘flight, fight, or freeze response.’ This occurs when a person pairs a memory with an automatic fear response. This fear then causes them to want to run away, fight it off, or become frozen and unable to react. 

The trauma response is not always easy to identify because it may occur much later than the event that caused the trauma. For example, a person who experienced a traumatic event in the military may be jumpy and irritable on the Fourth of July when fireworks go off. They may also have bad dreams, recurrent thoughts of the prior experience, be hyper-aware of their surroundings, and avoid conversations or media that remind them of the traumatic event. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to abusing drugs or alcohol to escape the bad memories. 

Another stress-related disorder can occur in response to an identifiable stressor within a few months of the onset of the situation. Symptoms include high distress that is out of proportion to the problem. This can affect people differently as some may also have a depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or other symptoms that contribute to further distress. 

How Can Vanguard Psychiatry Help?

Vincent’s Story

Consider the case of Vincent, who is experiencing mood swings, difficulty concentrating, sharp pains in his chest, sleeplessness, and constant worry due to his work situation. Vincent works in the grocery business, which is very fast paced and physically demanding. Recently he was given a supervisory position. When asked to describe his symptoms, he shared this story. “The pressure at work is constant. I come in an hour before the shift starts, get everyone’s task list ready, and then stay an hour after everyone else goes home. I feel like I’m going crazy, and I know the managers watch everything I do. A couple of weeks ago, I was not paying attention and accidentally injured my hand when stocking shelves. I thought I was going to lose my job because of this, and I still worry I’m going to get fired.” Vincent said he decided to give Dr. Defilippo a call because he feels he can’t take the stress anymore.


How can Vanguard Psychiatry help Vincent?

Dr. Defilippo asked Vincent about various areas of his life to get a complete picture of what is contributing to his stress. Vincent said he used to work out every morning, but now this new work schedule forced him to completely cut out going to the gym. Also, he would meet up with friends after work to have dinner or talk, and now he goes straight home, saying he’s exhausted, usually with a headache. Vincent said he worries that he will never have time to develop a relationship and meet his bigger goals of getting married and having a family. Dr. Defilippo and Vincent used a collaborative approach to talk about his schedule, his work-life balance, and working with Cognitive Behavioral techniques plus medication to help Vincent get his stress under control. 

Working with a trained psychiatric professional can help expose the symptoms you are experiencing and help you find solutions. At Vanguard Psychiatry, Dr. Defilippo understands that mental health treatment is not a “one size fits all” approach and each person’s experience is unique. Together we will explore solutions that will provide relief and help you enjoy life again. 


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