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Trauma derives from the Greek τραῦμα, meaning “wound.” Although it has been used for centuries as a medical term to designate “an injury to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent,” it was not until 1889 that this word endorsed a psychological meaning with the first clinical descriptions of “traumatic neuroses” in victims of railroad accidents by Oppenheim. Stress was first a mechanics term used to describe the pressure or tension exerted on a material object. It was then been applied to mental health to describe a feeling of psychological strain and pressure. Both psychological trauma and stress can result in psychiatric disorders.
Anxiety is a common human emotion and is experienced by all people at some point in life. It is characterized by a state of apprehension about a perceived threat or potentially dangerous situation. In addition, fear is a negative emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. At mild to moderate levels, anxiety can be adaptive, motivating, and can help improve performance and attention. For example, prior to a significant life event such as an important test or presentation, some individuals may experience anxiety, which could serve as a motivator to work harder and perform better. Similarly, fear can be an adaptive response when one is confronted with a life-threatening situation, and a fight or flight response to danger is present and adaptive across many animal species. However, for some, anxiety or fear may be overwhelming, distressing, and interfere with functioning. This may require a person to seek treatment depending on the level of interference and could also result in the development of a psychiatric condition.
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