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Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders: Lifespan Perspectives

The chapter in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), titled “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders” describes diagnoses that all stipulate etiology in an aversive event. Specifically, the onset or worsening of the symptoms described by these disorders should be preceded by exposure to a traumatic event or to a nontraumatic, significant stressor or set of stressors. These disorders include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD), adjustment disorders, and two disorders of infancy and childhood, disinhibited social engagement disorder and reactive attachment disorder. Because of the nature of stress and its biological underpinnings, the developmental context and timing within the lifespan of exposure to stress or trauma are critical to understanding symptom expression and trajectory.

On a biological level, stress triggers ...

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