What Causes PTSD?

Living with someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) isn’t easy. People with PTSD might seem alert and on edge all of the time, barking at the people they love and reacting with intensity at the slightest whiff of danger. At night, they might thrash and cry out due to nightmares they’re unwilling to explain, and during the day, they might seem to be encased in their own movies, reliving moments that clearly bring them fear. Family members might desperately want the people they love to change, but they may not know how to bring that about. Understanding what causes PTSD could be helpful, as this knowledge might help families to understand the help that the person they love might need.

cause of PTSD

Traumatic Root

People don’t wake up one morning with PTSD. Instead, they develop the cluster of symptoms associated with this mental illness in response to an episode that involved:

  • Death
  • Physical harm
  • Imminent danger
  • A feeling of helplessness

A car crash, a terrorist attack, the sudden death of a loved one or a combat situation could all trigger PTSD in someone who survives the episode. However, just seeing something like this unfold isn’t the only factor in play in the development of PTSD, as the National Center for PTSD reports that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women live through a trauma like this at least once. Those who have PTSD have attributes that others simply don’t have.

Inherited Characteristics

Vulnerability to PTSD might begin with one’s genes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, as portions of the brain associated with memory, fear and stress all seem to be a little different in those who have PTSD, when compared to those who don’t. People who have a cluster of genetic changes might have an exaggerated response to a fear trigger, and they might have difficulty storing that memory appropriately. In addition, the portions of their brains associated with impulse control and judgment might be amended, so they’re unable to discern something truly dangerous from another situation that’s benign.

Research on PTSD is ongoing, and at this moment, experts suggest that there might be a number of different genes involved in PTSD development. It might take years or even decades for researchers to untangle the interplay of genes, but it’s reasonable to suggest that some kind of inherited trait makes PTSD more likely in people who emerge from a terrible situation.

Societal Concerns

Those who have a traumatic episode and a genetic propensity might still emerge unscathed from a big event, if they have a strong network of people to lean upon and a group of peers to talk to. There are some people, however, who seem to have a low amount of support from others, and they might be reluctant to process their memories and talk about their concerns. People like this might be more apt to develop PTSD, simply because they have no outlet for the pain they’re experiencing.

Sometimes, this is a transient event. People who have recently been through another traumatic episode, such as the death of a loved one, might just be vulnerable to more misery in the months that follow, and they might be less inclined to talk. Those under stress due to jobs, home or friends might also have difficulty with talking openly.

Help Is Available

No matter why PTSD developed, it can be effectively treated. With therapy, people can learn more about how to handle the traumas of life without resorting to destructive behavior. If you’d like more information about help like this, please call us at The Oaks at La Paloma.