Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition centered around a person’s response to a traumatic event. In the past, PTSD was mostly associated with veterans. In fact, before the name “PTSD,” the condition was recognized and known by many other names, such as “shell shock” and “combat fatigue.” However, it’s important to know that PTSD extends past veterans and can happen to anyone.

Understanding PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that occurs when someone has been through or witnessed a scary, risky or shocking event.

It’s natural for humans to have an emotional response to a dangerous event. But, when someone develops PTSD, they relive the trauma in their head, often with flashbacks or nightmares. This constant reliving can cause adverse side effects such as insomnia, isolation, irritability and paranoia. As a result, the symptoms of PTSD can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. This is exactly why understanding PTSD, as well as its symptoms, causes and treatment options, is so vital for both the person with PTSD and any close people in their life.

Statistics About PTSD

Here are some illuminating statistics about PTSD that can give you a sense of the reach and consequences of this condition:

  • Approximately 6% of the U.S. population will develop PTSD at some point. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.
  • Even though this condition impacts millions of people, most people who go through a traumatic event won’t develop PTSD.
  • Most people with PTSD who receive treatment fully recover and no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
  • Some people with PTSD don’t know they still have or previously had the condition.

Signs & Symptoms of PTSD

It can often be hard to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder, as it can present itself as the person being moody, distant or difficult. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Constant flashbacks or nightmares of a traumatic event
  • Increased irritability, mood swings, anger and isolation
  • Insomnia
  • Increased stress, anxiety and depression
  • A sudden increase in reckless behavior
  • Avoidance behavior around anything that reminds the person of the traumatic event
  • Denial about the traumatic event ever happening

Often, the individual has triggers associated with the traumatic event that set off PTSD symptoms. For example, someone who’s been through a terrible car accident may not recognize that they now develop intense road rage every time they drive.

Anyone who experiences a traumatic event will have strong reactions to their situation. However, a person is developing PTSD when they meet the following qualifications:

  • Symptoms last longer than 1 month.
  • Symptoms are strong enough to impact day-to-day life, such as relationships, school or work, finances, self-care, etc.

Usually, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder emerge within 3 months of the traumatic event. But in some cases, they may appear anywhere in the first year after the event.

Causes and Risk Factors for PTSD

PTSD is caused by experiencing a traumatic event and having difficulties coping with that event. Examples of traumatic events include car accidents, violent personal attacks, witnessing an attack, war events and childbirth.

Additionally, women overall are more likely to develop PTSD than men. A plausible explanation for this is that women tend to be at higher risk for physical and sexual assaults.

There are other PTSD demographics that make some people more at risk for developing the condition:

  • Veterans
  • Veterans who’ve deployed to a war zone
  • Individuals who have a history of previous traumatic experiences
  • Individuals who had little to no support after the traumatic event
  • Individuals with existing mental health conditions
  • Individuals with a history of substance abuse addiction

It’s unclear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t. However, people who reach out for help after a traumatic event and process the trauma right away are less likely to have PTSD.

Treatment Options for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t something that usually resolves on its own. Individuals need to confront their feelings, learn how to recognize their triggers and understand coping strategies. If you seek professional help for your post-traumatic stress disorder, there’s a high chance you’ll have a full recovery.

The potential treatment options for PTSD are therapy, medication or a combination of both therapy and medication.

When looking at therapy options for PTSD treatment, it’s essential to work with a mental health professional who has experience with PTSD. In addition to one-on-one talk therapy, it may be helpful for some patients to engage in support groups and family counseling.

The most common medications used to treat PTSD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant medication. Prescription medication can often take time to get right. You’ll need to work with your medical provider to find the right brand and dosage so you feel an improvement in your symptoms. It’s important to remember that medication should never make you feel worse, and you can always bring up concerns or negative side effects to your doctor.

Some people are opposed to taking medication for their mental health conditions. That’s perfectly okay and something that should be shared with your counselor. Medication can be beneficial for most, but nothing can beat therapy for PTSD treatment.

Tips for PTSD Treatment

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you pursue professional treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • You won’t get better overnight. Your symptoms will gradually subside, but it will take time and work. Be patient. Things will get better, but you’ll need to trust the process.
  • Talk with a professional treatment center about your options. There isn’t one path for PTSD treatment, and you can choose the treatment plan that feels best for you.
  • Focus on reducing your stress. You can regularly exercise, meditate or journal, go on vacation or take up a relaxing hobby.
  • Focus on improving your sleep; getting a restful night’s sleep benefits your mental health.
  • Avoid substances, such as drugs and alcohol.
  • Share your experiences with your loved ones so they know your triggers and understand what you’re working through.

Sunlight Recovery Can Help

Seeking professional help for your PTSD is always the smart choice. You don’t have to live with unresolved trauma. Getting treatment can help you process the event and move on so you’re back to living your regular, happy life. Contact Sunlight Recovery today to take your first steps.