It can be considered that an event is traumatic from a psychological point of view if it is a threat or attack that: It occurs suddenly, unexpectedly or out of the norm (this includes continued abuse). It exceeds the individual’s perceived ability to handle the threat or attack. It disturbs the frames of reference of the individual and other basic schemes that serve to understand and manage the world.
For the WHO, at the ICD-10, trauma occurs when: The person has been exposed to a stressful event or situation (both brief and prolonged) of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which could cause profound discomfort in almost everyone. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, is more restrictive since it considers that for a post-traumatic stress disorder to occur there must be an event that involves exposure to death, serious injury or sexual violence, either real or in the form of a threat, your own or someone close to you. Considering this is necessary for post-traumatic stress disorder, this definition leaves out events that can be very traumatic and have devastating effects, but they are not directly related to situations of physical violence or death danger.
To give an example, a couple’s infidelity is experienced as a traumatic betrayal that has effects similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, in the definition of the ICD-10, it would be considered a traumatic fact of the betrayal of the couple in infidelity. It can trigger processes similar to those described in DSM 5 to define post-traumatic stress disorder. The advantage of DSM 5 is that it has a more detailed list of the consequences of trauma when it becomes a psychological problem. Thus, they include that it leaves sequels in the form of dreams, recurring memories, or other ways of reliving what happened; that cause great discomfort that affects work or personal life. When the person initiates an avoidance strategy against sequelae trying to eliminate them, another series of emotional problems occur and there is also an alteration of alertness.