Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a prevalent mental health condition that affects more than 5% of the United States population. People with PTSD have suffered a significant trauma that causes them to relive the event long after it’s over. Additionally, they may experience frequent bouts of anger, confusion, and intense fear.

In this blog, we’ll examine PTSD basics, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options for PTSD.


What Kind of Events Lead to PTSD? 

Unfortunately, everyone will witness or experience a traumatic event at some point. After the event, you may feel anger, sadness, or anxiety. These are normal emotions to have after experiencing a trauma, but they are generally short-lived. 

After your brain works hard to process the experience, these emotions will dissipate, and you’ll begin to feel better. However, some events are so tragic and disturbing that the emotions linger, making it difficult to move on from the trauma.

They include: 

  • Being a victim or witness of bullying
  • Experiencing domestic violence
  • Being in a car accident
  • Fighting in a war
  • Responding to a tragedy
  • Witnessing a natural disaster, such as a wildfire or earthquake
  • Witnessing a terrorist attack
  • Having a difficult childbirth
  • Surviving an act of random violence
  • Experiencing a life-altering injury or illness
  • Experiencing sexual assault 

Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. To receive a diagnosis, you must have PTSD symptoms for at least six months. Experiencing symptoms up to one month after the event but less than six months in total is acute stress disorder. This disorder does not require intense treatment, and most people recover from it naturally or with talk therapy.


Who Can Develop PTSD?

For years, post-traumatic stress disorder was coined ‘shell shock’. A term used to describe military veterans who developed mental illness after experiencing the perils of combat. Due to this, people often think of post-traumatic stress disorder as a mental illness that only affects military veterans or active-duty soldiers.

The truth is anyone could develop post-traumatic stress regardless of their job or lifestyle. First responders often develop PTSD after constant exposure to life-threatening situations. First responders are at a greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder than the general public, second to military veterans.

According to the National Center for PTSD, 5% of the population will experience post-traumatic stress disorder, with women twice as likely to experience it than men. This is due to the type of traumas they are exposed to, which include domestic violence and sexual assault.

Other people who are at significant risk of developing PTSD include:

  • Social workers
  • Trauma surgeons
  • Foster children
  • Asylum seekers
  • Refugees
  • Abuse victims 
  • Drug addicts 

People with mental health disorders such as anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or addictions are also at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD? 

People with PTSD experience an array of symptoms that begin after witnessing the traumatic event and may continue for six months or more. These symptoms impact their lives and cause disruptions in their everyday activities. Some may also develop phobias due to persistent avoidance of things that remind them of the trauma.

The symptoms of PTSD are divided into four categories: intrusive, avoidance, decline in concentration and mood, and changes in arousal and activity. It isn’t necessary to experience every symptom in a particular category to have PTSD.

Intrusive symptoms:

  • Unwanted negative thoughts
  • Involuntary memories of the traumatic event
  • Vivid flashbacks of the trauma

Avoidance symptoms:

  • Avoiding items or conversations related to the event
  • Avoiding places that bring back memories of the event
  • Avoiding memories of the trauma by any means

Changes in thinking and memory:

  • Blaming yourself for the event despite it not being your fault
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Losing interest in enjoyable activities
  • Continual anxiety or fear after the event
  • Difficulty feeling happy
  • Difficulty recalling aspects of the traumatic event

Changes in arousal and activity:

  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Angry outbursts
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Feeling wired or jittery
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling easily startled

In some cases, individuals with PTSD are so troubled by these symptoms that they engage in self-destructive behaviors like gambling or substance abuse to cope.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed and Treated?

Though some cases of post-traumatic stress disorder go away without treatment, those with persistent symptoms should seek help from a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat them. 

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) is often the first course of treatment. However, there are many forms of therapy used to treat PTSD. 

They include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT teaches PTSD sufferers how to change their feelings about the trauma.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR): EMDR is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that utilizes rhythmic eye movements and guided exposure to desensitize one’s reaction to the traumatic event.
  • Prolonged exposure (PE): PE therapy gradually re-exposes the sufferer to memories or situations they’ve been avoiding related to the trauma. This helps them overcome phobias, anxiety, and depression caused by avoidance.
  • Experiential and Recreational Therapy: Recreational therapy provides those with PTSD the ability to engage in artistic and athletic activities as they work toward overcoming the symptoms of PTSD.

People with severe cases of PTSD or co-occurring conditions like addiction may require medications along with treatment to heal.


Help for PTSD is One Click Away

When it comes to PTSD, it’s important to remember that everyone experiences it differently. While some people get better independently, others require treatment to heal. This isn’t a sign of weakness or anything to be ashamed of. With the right approach to treatment, you will heal successfully and move on from the trauma.

If you or someone you know struggles to cope with the memories of a traumatic event, contact the Call us today at (888) 995-6013 for help. Our experts will walk you through our many treatment programs and answer any questions about enrollment.

Your journey to healing starts here.

  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. How Common is PTSD in Adults?
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  3. National Library of Medicine. Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment of Traumatic Stress in First Responders: A Review of Critical Issues