The Truth About PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, may occur in people who have witnessed a tragic, shocking, or scary event. The PTSD definition applies to anyone who experiences fear long after a shocking event. It is normal to be scared following a traumatic event, and this fear causes the body to go into defense mode to avoid danger. While most people are able to recover from the “fight or flight” reaction, some continue to experience emotional stress, resulting in PTSD. This causes the sufferer to feel scared, even when not in danger.

PTSD statistics show that up to 20% of people who have experienced a traumatic event in their lives develop PTSD. Currently, that is about 44.7 million people in the United States. The National Center for PTSD reports that about 8% of the population will experience this disorder at some point during their lifetime.

PTSD symptoms typically begin within 3 months of the tragic event and last over a month. While some people are able to recover in a short period of time, others struggle with PTSD for years. Symptoms include flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, scary thoughts, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, a loss of emotion, and depression. Someone who is suffering from PTSD may also lose interest in things they enjoy or even have a hard time remembering the traumatic event. They are often tense and on edge with common angry outbursts.

Anyone at any age can develop PTSD. War veterans, assault victims, children, victims of abuse, and those who have experienced an accident or disaster are all prone to developing PTSD. Genetics may play a factor in someone’s likelihood of developing PTSD, and women are more prone to PTSD than men.

Not every event associated with PTSD is dangerous. Some sufferers of PTSD can develop the disorder after a loved one experiences intense and sudden danger or harm. An unexpected death of a friends or family member may also result in PTSD.

The main PTSD treatments are therapy and medication. The most common PTSD medications are antidepressants, which help regulate PTSD symptoms such as anger, sadness, and worry. A mental health professional can perform a PTSD test on anyone who is showing signs or symptoms. This typically includes an array of questions focusing on the patient’s past traumatic experiences.