Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship

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People are often exposed to distressing events that affect them and their development in the future. Stress and trauma can significantly impact one’s mental health and biological makeup, leading to the development of various physical and psychological conditions. Nevertheless, resilience is the most common outcome of exposure to traumatic incidents, allowing people to recover quickly from traumatic events and not suffer psychological and emotional consequences.

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This essay will discuss the relationship between stress, psychological stability, and mental health outcomes after distressing events and argue that a literature review demonstrates that resilience is an important mediator between exposure to trauma and mental health outcomes.

Literature Review

Numerous research studies are dedicated to examining the correlation between stress, resilience, and mental health outcomes. According to Mętel et al. (2019), resilience is an essential mechanism in the relationship between stress and symptoms of depressive disorder. Specifically, the research study addresses early trauma and the behavioral consequences of exposure to it. The authors define resilience as a psychological resource and a cognitive factor that allows individuals to maintain a reasonably stable and healthy level of functioning after experiencing a disruptive event (Mętel et al., 2019).

The researchers recruited over 2000 people to examine how early traumatic events are correlated with depression and the role of resilience and other cognitive factors in this relationship. The study results show that early-life stress is a significant predictor of developing the depressive disorder and self-reported symptoms of depression. Furthermore, it was found to play a protective role against the condition, with Mętel et al. (2019) stating that it can alleviate the effect of childhood trauma on its symptoms. The presented research suggests resilience is one of the mediators between early exposure to stress and trauma and mood disorders later in adulthood.

The selected study directly addresses the thesis of this paper as it discusses resilience as a mediating mechanism in the relationship between traumatic experiences and adverse mental health outcomes. It should be noted that Mętel et al. (2019) address early-life stress exclusively and the effects it has on young adults.

It is unclear whether resilience has a similar mediating effect on depression following a stressful event endured in adulthood. The authors also addressed gender differences, stating that women are less psychologically resilient than men while experiencing more traumatic incidents and being more depressed (Mętel et al., 2019). Overall, the study supports the idea of resilience having an alleviating effect on mental health disorders.

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It can also be argued that resilience is a result of coping strategies being implemented in the aftermath of stressful events. Thus, Thompson et al. (2018) examine how active coping skills employed by resilient individuals are correlated with the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The authors recruited 164 patients from an emergency department to measure PTSD progressions at 1-, 3-, and 6-months following trauma and how it is influenced by coping skills (Thompson et al., 2018).

The study shows that individuals exhibiting higher psychological resilience one month after a stressful event have fewer PTSD indicators at the six-month mark. Furthermore, Thompson et al. (2018) note that more resilient participants utilized active coping strategies and sought social support following the trauma, while patients with PTSD symptoms exhibited social withdrawal and avoidant coping tactics. Thus, the study views resilience as an intermediary factor between exposure to stressful events and PTSD.

The study relates to the thesis of the paper as it discusses the relationship between trauma, mental health outcomes, and resilience. Both studies by Mętel et al. (2019) and Thompson et al. (2018) examine how it affects the development of mental health disorders following distressing events. Unlike Mętel et al. (2019), Thomson et al. (2018) explore what factors contribute to an individual being psychologically resilient, investigating the roles of coping skills and social support in the context of the aftermath of substantial trauma.

The discussion of support-seeking behavior and different coping mechanisms in the study helps to comprehend better why some people successfully deal with stressors while others are at risk of experiencing symptoms of depression and PTSD. Overall, the study adds to the existing body of literature on the topic and illustrates how resilience is manifested following a stressful event and its correlation to PTSD.

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The final article selected for this literature review explores the relationship between event centrality, depression, PTSD, and various adaptive behaviors, including resilience. Wamser-Nanney et al. (2018) argue that post-trauma functioning is affected primarily by the severity of the experienced stress. The authors believe that the individual perception of the traumatic incident is the central mediator between the event and the trauma-related mental health and adaptive outcomes.

Thus, if an individual does not view a stressor as serious, they are less likely to develop symptoms of depression or PTSD or experience significant personal growth and become more resilient. Nevertheless, the research reveals that the severity and centrality of trauma to the sufferer’s life have not correlated with stability (Wamser-Nanney et al., 2018). It can be asserted that resilience is an adaptive outcome that is not affected by the trauma itself but by other factors that need further investigation.

The last article examines how mental health and adaptive outcomes are correlated with event centrality. Thus, unlike the first two articles, Wamser-Nanney et al. (2018) discuss whether trauma severity helps develop resilience and alleviates the symptoms of depression and PTSD experienced after exposure to a stressor.

Although no relationship between event centrality and psychological stability was established, the study emphasizes the importance of further research into the mechanisms of developing resilience to help individuals better cope with stress. In addition, the article differs from the first two studies as it does not consider the effect of resilience on PTSD and depression directly but rather views it as another result of trauma. Nevertheless, the alleviating effect of psychological stability on adverse mental health outcomes is not disputed in the study.


Distressing incidents can have a severe impact on one’s mental health and well-being and lead to depression and PTSD, among other conditions. However, the most common outcome is the development of resilience, a psychological resource that helps people maintain stable and psychologically healthy functioning following a traumatic event. Two of the discussed research articles by Mętel et al. (2019) and Thompson et al. (2018) assert that resilience has an alleviating effect on the symptoms of depression and PTSD following exposure to stressors.

In addition, Thompson et al. (2018) examine what behavior indicates high resilience in a person with a traumatic experience, noting that active coping and support seeking lead to the development of fewer symptoms of PTSD. Meanwhile, Wamser-Nanney et al. (2018) explored to what extent trauma centrality affects resilience and mental health outcomes, concluding that resilience is not affected by the severity of the stressor.


Mętel, D., Arciszewska, A., Daren, A., Frydecka, D., Cechnicki, A., & Gawęda, Ł. (2019). Resilience and cognitive biases mediate the relationship between early exposure to traumatic life events and depressive symptoms in young adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 254, 26–33. Web.

Thompson, N. J., Fiorillo, D., Rothbaum, B. O., Ressler, K. J., & Michopoulos, V. (2018). Coping strategies as mediators in relation to resilience and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 153–159. Web.

Wamser-Nanney, R., Howell, K. H., Schwartz, L. E., & Hasselle, A. J. (2018). The moderating role of trauma type on the relationship between event centrality of the traumatic experience and mental health outcomes. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 10(5), 499–507. Web.

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"Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship." PsychologyWriting, 23 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship'. 23 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship." July 23, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship." July 23, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Resilience and Exposure to Trauma Relationship." July 23, 2022.