What are the Different Types of Trauma?

Two-thirds of American children experience significant trauma by the time they are 16. Almost a third of children will suffer multiple traumas.

And being an adult doesn’t make you immune to trauma either. In fact, there are different types of trauma that can affect us. Although you can not change the past, there are ways to seek help.

Do you think you or someone you know is dealing with unresolved trauma? Read ahead as we explore the different types of trauma and discover when to seek help in this in-depth guide.

What is Trauma?

First, we must answer this simple question. Where do we draw the line?

Does someone that goes through a bad breakup experience trauma? What about someone who gets into a car accident? 

In the broadest sense, trauma refers to any deeply disturbing event and/or physical injury. This can lead to intense stress and/or anxiety that overwhelms our ability to cope. We focus on managing the negative consequences in the long term. 

Types of Trauma

There are numerous types of trauma. Some occur over time and some traumatic experiences happen in an instant.

Regardless, the effects can linger for years, especially when proper management is absent.

Here are the principal subtypes to consider.

Medical Trauma

Any physical injury, no matter how small, is technically a trauma. However, ‘medical trauma’ refers to the physical and emotional response to pain, injury, and/or illness. 

Therefore, victims of a car accident can experience medical trauma. Also, someone who receives a distressing diagnosis also experiences medical trauma.

Remember that being in a hospital and receiving treatment can often add to a traumatic experience. Being surrounded by people in lab coats and beeping, whirring machines is frightening for most people.

Psychological Trauma

Traumatic experiences can lead to psychological harm. Severe stress and anxiety following an event can occur, resulting in negative health effects.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur. Signs of psychological trauma include panic attacks, emotional distress, insomnia, eating disorders, drug abuse, and self-harm.

Remembering the event can trigger severe anxiety and stress.

Childhood Traumas

Children are vulnerable to experience trauma and suffer from its long-term effects.

Any child with negative life experiences has the potential to suffer trauma as a result. Children who display anxiety, excessive mood swings, and other behaviors may have underlying trauma that requires attention.

Mind the Gap

Discrepancies in quality of life, community safety, and access to help mean that some children have more risk than others.

Children of color are more likely to experience childhood trauma and toxic stress than white children.


We’ve all seen it happen. The schoolyard or the neighborhood bullies use intimidation and violence to harm, humiliate, and coerce those around them.

One in five kids is bullied each year. Thousands of them skip class to avoid harassment and violence.

People who experience bullying may be at risk for psychological trauma. Dealing with bullies requires the whole community to do their part. Teachers, parents, classmates, and others can all help out.


Social media provides a way to stay in touch with family and friends. Unfortunately, their popularity is not without consequence.

For one, they can be a cause of negative body image and even addiction. Plus, they give bullies yet another way to spread harm.

Cyberbullying is getting out of control. This takes the form of mean comments and/or post and includes sharing personal content, such as photos or videos.


Natural and man-made disasters come in many forms. Landslides, severe weather events, flooding, stampedes and building collapses are just a few examples.

People who live through these types of events can experience medical and/or psychological trauma.

Survivor guilt can lead to severe anxiety and depression. PTSD is also common.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can lead to severe physical and psychological consequences for the victim.

About half of sexual assault victims develop some form of PTSD. This is a higher rate than victims of natural disasters or car accidents.

Teaching Consent

Over 90% of victims of sexual violence are female. The vast majority of rapists are men. 80% of the time, they are people the victim knows. The actions of the victim are never to blame.

People should learn about consent starting at a young age and into adulthood.

Intimate Partner Violence

Also known as domestic violence, this refers to intentional harm done to one’s current or previous spouse/partner.

This includes physical, psychological, and sexual violence. Any of these has the potential to cause severe trauma. The fact that the perpetrator is someone that is supposed to give care, love, and affections makes this even more painful and difficult.

The victim may still harbor feelings of love/admiration. They might be deathly afraid to report the abuse. This can lead them to live in denial and even protect their assailant.

Dealing with Traumatic Experiences

It is vital that we do something about the trauma we experience. Society seems to tell us that we should just ‘suck it up’ or ‘get over it’. Or maybe we think there is nothing that can be done.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. It might not be easy but help is out there. 

What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. A treatment plan should consist of a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach.

Living with Trauma

For the time being, it seems that some types of trauma are an unpreventable part of life. We can’t change past events. Let’s work towards a better future.

Everyone responds to traumatic events in their own way. Recognizing that you’ve experienced trauma and seeking help take guts. 

If you or someone close to you is dealing with trauma, you can take steps to do something about it. Visit this page to schedule a call with our experts to learn more about how we can help.