Journal article Open Access

Symptoms, aetiology, epidemiology, psychophysiology, treatment, and outcomes of developmental trauma

Ali, Rima; Berhe, Azia; Felton, Ian; Harman, Taylor; Paumen, Jennifer; & Peterson, Ryan

Developmental trauma disorder (DTD) is not formally recognised as a diagnosis in the current diagnostic systems. There has been a push for its inclusion by child psychiatrists and psychologists within the past decade. There are a multitude of symptoms associated with DTD, which can manifest differently depending on the individual and the type of trauma they have experienced. The array of symptoms participants have reported in studies shows the difficulty in pinpointing exactly what individuals who have developmental trauma will experience throughout their lives. Based on previous works, a traumatic home environment is the most likely cause of DTD. Factors that may moderate developmental trauma disorder are discussed. Those at risk for DTD include: (i) children who have been separated from a parent; (ii) children who have experienced any form of maltreatment; and, (iii) people who, as infants, felt vulnerable and perceived their caregiver(s) as unpredictable. Exposure to trauma affects the entire body and trauma experienced in childhood is the most detrimental because the brain is still developing. Due to the nature of how varied and complex developmental trauma can be for each person, there is no single treatment that has been found through research that can cure developmental trauma. Pharmacological, psychosocial, and behavioural treatments are discussed. 

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