Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is mental health diagnosis that can impact anyone. An estimated 4-10% of the U.S. adult population currently will have a PTSD diagnosis at some point in their lives. This disorder occurs when a person experiences an uncontrollable trauma that causes distress and anxiety. It can happen to anyone of any background, age, or experience. Having PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and it is a treatable condition.1
Some people may not be aware that they are experiencing post-traumatic stress, and it can often be masked by denial. Many people may have the misconception that PTSD is a one-dimensional disorder that is only caused by a few different experience, but the truth is that it has many causes and many different outcomes.
Stress-Related Conditions, Including PTSD
Post-traumatic stress begins with a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Stress disorders and anxiety disorders are often confused for post-traumatic stress disorder, but these conditions are all somewhat related because they can all be the result of an attempt to cope with anxiety that began with a traumatic incident.
Normal Stress Response
A normal stress response occurs before PTSD begins. Normal stress response does not have to lead up to PTSD. All humans react to stressors or dangers in some way. Events like accidents, injuries, illnesses, surgeries, abandonment, and/or unreasonable amounts of tension and stress can all lead to a normal stress response.
Normal stress response is often best treated by the support of loved ones, peers who understand the stressors, and individual therapy sessions. Group therapy sessions tend to be more beneficial as the support gained a larger circle of supporters can be the most crucial part of recovery.
Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder is also not the same as PTSD. However, acute stress disorder also occurs when a person or persons are exposed to an event that feels life-threatening. Instances such as natural disasters, loss of a loved one, unemployment, and risk of death are all associated with acute stress disorder. If left untreated, acute stress disorder will become PTSD. Like PTSD, acute stress disorder can be treated by therapy, group support, medication, and even more intensive treatments.
Uncomplicated PTSD is the result of one major traumatic event, as opposed to multiple events. Uncomplicated PTSD is the easiest form of PTSD to treat. Symptoms include a strong desire to avoid reminders of the trauma, nightmares or flashbacks related to the trauma, irritability or mood changes, and changes in relationships, feelings of safety, and faith in a better future.
Complex, or complicated PTSD is the result of multiple traumas. This type of PTSD is common in situations involving abuse or domestic violence, as well as situations of repeated exposure to war, community violence, or sudden loss. Complicated PTSD includes all of the symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD, but it does require a little more treatment. Treatment is very effective for both uncomplicated and complicated PTSD.
Comorbid PTSD is also known under the umbrella of co-occurring disorders. This term is applied when a person has more than one mental health concern, and/or a substance use disorder. Comorbid PTSD is highly common, as many people suffer from more than one condition at a time.
Do You Think You Might Have PTSD?
Many people try to treat PTSD on their own. Sometimes people self-medicate to relieve the distress that their trauma caused. Using drugs or alcohol to numb pain will only make things worse. Do not waste one more day on PTSD: help is available. Call (877) 345-1887 now.
1 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. PTSD: National Center for PTSD. How Common is PTSD? 03 Oct 2016.