At this point, we have all at least heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, most of us still don’t know exactly what that means or what it entails. While the majority of us associate the diagnosis with soldiers and veterans, those aren’t the only people affected, and of course not everyone experiences PTSD to the same degree. Let us address some of the biggest questions people have about this condition:
1. First of all, what is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs after a person as been through a traumatic situation. Whether the person has experienced warfare, sexual assault, or another life-threatening or terrifying situation, they may constantly feel threatened or endangered.
“A person who suffers PTSD typically re-experiences the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares, experiences that can seem as real as the actual trauma. The person often feels intensely that the trauma could happen again at any time.” – cnn.com
Many scenarios can act as “triggers” for someone who is suffering from PTSD. For soldiers and veterans it can be loud noises, large crowds, or something specific that triggers those traumatic memories. A victim of assault may be triggered by someone who resembles their attacker, or they may hold a fear of going out alone, being out at night, etc. Every case of PTSD is unique in it’s circumstances and triggers.
2. How common is it?
PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced a traumatic experience, regardless of their mental health or medical history. That being said, most trauma survivors do not develop PTSD. Who experiences it and when depends largely on the length of exposure to traumatic situations as well as other factors.
3. How is it diagnosed?
PTSD is diagnosed by a licensed psychologist in an interview setting. By discussing the trauma and surrounding events in an in-depth interview, a physchologist will be able to determine whether someone may be suffering from PTSD, and the severity to which they react.
4. Do people with PTSD present an increased risk of violence?
The likelihood of someone reacting violently in a stressful situation does not increase in someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD. When someone suffering from trauma is “triggered” they will react as if they are experiencing this experience again. This could be a violent response, a mild reaction, or it could cause the person to retreat in fear. There is no guaranteed response in PTSD victims.
5. How do people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder return to a normal life?
People can learn to live with or overcome their PTSD through Exposure Therapy and counseling with a licensed psychiatrist.