Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition triggered by a powerful traumatic event. While commonly associated with combat veterans, PTSD can happen to anyone who has witnessed or experienced a life-changing event.
During a PTSD episode, a person may experience extreme emotions, sensory overload, and flashbacks of the triggering event.
Events that Lead to PTSD
Any horrifying event can lead to PTSD. Examples include:
- Murder, rape, abuse, or assault
- Car accidents
- Hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters
- Wild animal attacks
When exposed to stimuli that resemble the traumatic event, people with PTSD may lose control of their spacial and sensory perception and relive the thoughts and emotions they initially felt.
The severity and frequency of these episodes vary from person to person and can interfere with daily life.
Symptoms of PTSD
After experiencing a terrifying event, a person can exhibit various symptoms, including:
- Avoiding places, objects, or stimuli that resemble the triggering event.
- Constantly feeling threatened or vulnerable.
- Feeling stressed, on edge, grumpy, or angry.
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating.
- Apathy toward former hobbies and activities.
- Intense flashbacks or nightmares of the event.
Coping with PTSD
People cope with PTSD in different ways. Some may isolate themselves from friends and family and work long hours to avoid interaction. Others may turn to numbing substances including drugs and alcohol.
They may have trouble developing or maintaining relationships and fall into depression. Panic attacks may occur without warning.
Young children with PTSD often act out their emotions among peers. They may become violent and aggressive on the playground or boisterous in the classroom.
They may exhibit fear or anger toward ordinary situations. They may also reproduce the trauma through drawings or writings. As they approach adolescence, their symptoms begin to resemble those of adults.
Common Causes of PTSD
The powerful emotions triggered by an event can rewire how the brain processes certain stimuli and the associations it creates. However, not everyone responds the same way to the same event. Factors that influence the likelihood of developing PTSD include:
- Proximity to the event
- Preexisting conditions or phobias
People who receive support and counseling after experiencing a traumatic event are less likely to develop PTSD.
While PTSD symptoms usually manifest shortly after the triggering event, some people may not experience them for months or even years.
The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan reports that between 40 to 60 percent of people who develop PTSD recover as time passes. However, roughly a third of PTSD sufferers continue to experience symptoms.
Counseling helps many people cope with PTSD. Support groups often host sessions that allow PTSD sufferers to share their feelings and relate to one another.
Art therapy has also been shown to mitigate symptoms and facilitate recovery. Through drawing or sculpting, people with PTSD can distance themselves from the traumatic event and perceive in a new light.
Holistic treatments such as yoga and meditation can also help PTSD sufferers manage stress and anxiety.
Learning Valuable Coping Skills
While early treatment is best, anyone suffering from PTSD can benefit from therapy. Inpatient treatment programs offer peaceful settings where people can relax and learn valuable skills to manage PTSD symptoms and related issues such as substance abuse.
Through counseling, support, and individualized treatment, you can regain control and live life to the fullest.
Call us at 877-466-0620 to learn more about PTSD and how we can help.