It is well accepted that the media has a large impact on how a society views certain aspects of culture. Through television, movies, and news, we are faced with the media’s ideas on what a culture should look like. In this way, media plays a strong role in the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular mental condition that appears in the media, particularly in movies and television.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health disorder that develops as result of exposure to trauma. Those with PTSD suffer from repeated re-experiencing of the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, or hallucinations. Such re-experiencing often prevents those with PTSD from living fulfilling lives. They may become avoidant, choosing to stay home in order to avoid those situations that trigger flashbacks. The re-experiencing of a traumatic event can cause hyper-arousal, as well. This leads to symptoms of irritability, panic attacks, poor concentration, and sleep deprivation. The symptoms of PTSD last for over a month following the traumatic event, and can continue for years if left untreated.
One of the most common causes of PTSD comes from war experiences. Those fighting in war or who live in war-torn countries have a high risk of developing PTSD. Most often, it is a near-death situation that leads to PTSD in military personnel. However, other situations may also cause the disorder to develop as well, such as witnessing another person’s death.
PTSD occurs as a result of non-military traumas, as well. Witnessing a natural disaster or the aftermath leads to the development of PTSD in many people. The witnessing of violence or crimes is a common cause of this disorder, as well. Situations that trigger the development of PTSD include the following: sexual abuse, physical abuse, robbery, childhood neglect, combat, and many others.
PTSD in Movies and Television
The portrayal of PTSD in movies and television is often fairly accurate. Certain features of PTSD tend to be accented, particularly the traumatic events which caused the disorder to develop. This leads to a concern about the types of events the media determines are traumatic enough to cause a disorder like PTSD. In a vast majority of these movies and television shows, those with PTSD have suffered from the traumas of combat exposure. Very rarely do they show scenarios where natural disaster or robbery causes PTSD. Because of this, the media inadvertently creates a stigma around those who develop PTSD from these events. As a society, we have become familiar with PTSD from military exposure. However, we may view those who have gone through “lesser traumas” as being weak if they develop a resulting mental illness. This stigma may prevent many who suffer from PTSD from seeking the treatment they need to recover.
Get Help for PTSD
If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about PTSD treatment.