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Psychological trauma (mental trauma, psychotrauma, or psychiatric trauma) is an emotional response caused by severe distressing events such as accidents, violence, sexual assault, terror, or sensory overload.
Short-term reactions such as psychological shock and psychological denial are typically followed. Long-term reactions and effects include bipolar disorder, uncontrollable flashbacks, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmare disorder, difficulties with interpersonal relationships, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Physical symptoms including migraines, hyperventilation, hyperhidrosis, and nausea are often developed.
As subjective experiences differ between individuals, people react to similar events differently. Not everyone who experiences a potentially traumatic event becomes psychologically traumatized, though they may be distressed and experience suffering. Some will develop PTSD after exposure to a traumatic event, or series of events. This discrepancy in risk rate can be attributed to protective factors some individuals have, that enable them to cope with difficult events, including temperamental and environmental factors, such as resilience and willingness to seek help.
Psychotraumatology is the study of psychological trauma.