Traumatic events can leave psychological scars in their wake. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a direct response to experiencing or witnessing a disturbing event. This includes violent personal attacks, abuse, accidents, and natural disasters. Not everyone who endures a traumatic event will be diagnosed with PTSD, as individuals experiencing the same situation may have different psychological reactions. Approximately 8% of the population will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime.
The majority of people who live through trauma will have a period of adjustment while trying to reconcile their experience with the world around them. This can last for several days or weeks. PTSD occurs when this initial shock response becomes prolonged. Common signs of PTSD include flashbacks, sleep disturbances, and unusual changes in mood or demeanor. It can sometimes take months for the symptoms to start appearing and this delay may make it more difficult for the person or their family and friends to recognize that they are struggling with PTSD.
If you or a loved one experienced a stressful or traumatic event, it can be challenging to identify whether the response you are having to it is PTSD or not. This is primarily because of the lengthy delay between when the trauma occurs and when noticeable symptoms begin to manifest. This is particularly relevant for anyone with pre-existing mental health or physical conditions that may share similar symptoms.
Below are several common behavioral and psychological symptoms of PTSD. If you or a loved one experience one or more of these, you might want to speak with a healthcare professional.
These symptoms may start immediately after the trauma or they may manifest months or even years later. In the majority of cases, people begin to notice signs of PTSD within three months. Delayed-onset PTSD takes place when symptoms do not start to manifest for at least six months.
The situations that may result in PTSD can vary significantly in degree and type. Violent and invasive events are more likely to cause PTSD, including the following:
A study by the University of Tromsø in Norway reported that individuals who have previously been diagnosed with a psychological disorder are at a higher risk for developing PTSD. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed than men. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs reports that approximately 10% of women will develop PTSD in their lifetime compared to 4% of men.
The following factors also play a role in the development of PTSD:
There are a wide variety of treatment options available that can be tailored to individual needs. Medication is often prescribed in tandem with talk therapy to provide relief for the physical symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used to process the memories and feelings associated with the trauma. Support groups can also provide validation and an understanding community, which can enhance the effects of one-on-one therapy. Several popular options for treating PTSD include the following:
A medical professional can provide a formal diagnosis and treatment options to help stop or lessen the PTSD symptoms that you may be experiencing. It is essential to reach out immediately if you or a loved one find yourself experiencing symptoms of PTSD that include intrusive suicidal or self-harming ideations.
Recovery from addiction is challenging and if you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD, reach out today for support. The dedicated team at Create Recovery is here to help you.