Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often considered a mental issue that afflicts combat veterans, but its influence can be felt in people from any profession. PTSD refers to the effects brought about by any traumatic event, be it a horrific wartime experience, or a car wreck, with symptoms including fear, depression, anxiety, and vulnerability. Yes, PTSD is common among veterans, but a significant portion of the general population are also coping with the effects of trauma.
Civilian PTSD is related to traumatic events that are not combat-related but can happen anytime, anywhere. Sexual abuse, car accidents, violent crimes, and natural disasters, and other incidents where someone may experience physical harm are all capable of causing a trauma that can stay with a person for a long time and cause mental anguish.
People who experience PTSD are often devastated by the intense emotions that well up. Paranoia, extreme fear, vulnerability, or believing their life is in danger are all feelings a person with PTSD may endure. The emotions can be so intense that a person can become ineffectual at performing everyday tasks. In some instances, PTSD can negatively impact job performance, health, and personal relationships. Co-occurring disorders are also common with PTSD, such as anxiety disorders, severe depression, and substance abuse.
PTSD is More Prevalent Than You Might Think
Approximately 7.7 million American adults are currently diagnosed with PTSD, and one in four children or adolescents have experienced at least one traumatic event before their 16th birthday. Seven or eight people out of every 100 will develop PTSD at some point.
The figures for the United States reveal that 51 percent of women and 61 percent of men have endured at least one traumatic event. Out of those, 20.4 percent of women, and 8.1 percent of men develop PTSD because of it.
The Effects of PTSD
People with PTSD can develop any number of symptoms. Some of the most common occurrences are flashbacks of the trauma, bad dreams, challenging memories, and terrifying thoughts.
A common coping mechanism for people with PTSD is to close themselves off from the world, so they avoid triggering the flashbacks and memories of the trauma. It’s also common for individuals with PTSD to experience extreme levels of anxiety, tension, constant fear, sleeplessness, restlessness, anger, and irritability.
Many of the symptoms of PTSD can cause people to alter their routines and change their behavior. They may become emotionally distant, which can affect their relationships. An impaired ability to interact socially with others can also create friction in their employment.
Other behavioral changes may also include losing interest in activities and hobbies they once enjoyed and avoiding doing things they liked before they went through the traumatic event.
Traumatic events do not affect everyone the same way, and many people will go through one without developing PTSD. Still, there are risk factors that can increase the likelihood a person will develop PTSD, which includes:
- Pain or injury caused by the traumatic event
- A history of substance abuse
- A genetic predisposition to PTSD
- Having a previous mental illness
- Losing a loved one, job, home, or other loss after the trauma
- Lack of social and family support after the traumatic event
- Constant feelings of extreme fear, helplessness, and horror
- Having gone through a traumatic experience during childhood
- Being witness to severe injury or death of another person during the traumatic event
How to Reduce the Chances of Developing PTSD
When you experience a traumatic event, there is a significant chance you will develop PTSD. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood that PTSD will take hold in your life.
Confide in family and friends. Emotional support is critical to moving past the trauma without developing PTSD. Friends and family are a foundation you can lean on during the aftermath of a traumatic event and are a source of comfort and stability. By talking it out with loved ones, you can work your way through the feelings brought on by the trauma, while also reducing your risk of PTSD.
If close friends and family are not available, support groups can provide another avenue to help you work through your emotions. Support groups are populated by individuals who are going through similar experiences and emotions that are like the emotional turmoil created by PTSD.
Also, developing a coping strategy and coming to terms with how you react to dangerous situations will help you work through the emotions brought on by the trauma, and significantly reduce the chance of you experiencing PTSD.
Seek Professional Help
Recovery after a traumatic event can be a challenge for many people, and even paralyzing to some. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, and that there is help available to you through many different channels.
Trained medical professionals are one avenue you can pursue in your treatment of PTSD or reducing your chances of going through it after a traumatic event. This strategy may be your best course of action for achieving positive results when treating your PTSD symptoms. Trained professionals are knowledgeable in the latest techniques that are proven to help with mental health issues, including PTSD.
PTSD is a common condition that can strike anyone, not just military veterans. When you know what you need to do to beat it you will be able to live a life free of extremes in emotional pain and turmoil common for people with PTSD.
Read more about PTSD counseling options here: Trauma Treatment