Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychological disease suffered by millions of people who have been exposed to extreme stress, violence or loss. While cases of PTSD can now be recognized in centuries-old reports of mental health symptoms exhibited by soldiers returning from war, the full ramifications of this disease have only been understood in recent decades. New approaches to treating PTSD are now available.
The human brain has several defense mechanisms that it uses to cope with overwhelming stress. The intricate and fragile chemical system that manages everything from emotions, laughter and sleep, to pain management and impulse control can be thrown off balance by traumatic experiences. It is normal to feel anxiety and fear when remembering frightening or life-threatening experiences.
But when the anxiety and fear impact every part of life on a daily basis, PTSD may be the cause.1
PTSD can happen to anyone, but there are certain situations that increase a person’s risk. People who get injured during a traumatic event or have a prolonged exposure to trauma are more likely to develop PTSD. The disorder is also more likely after military combat or sexual assault then with other types of trauma.1 People struggling with PTSD may experience flashbacks, nightmares, intense anxiety or panic attacks long after the moment of trauma has passed. This is because neural pathways in the brain have been damaged and reformed by that experience.
- Panic attacks
- Intense fear
- Self-destructive thoughts or actions
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
- Feeling keyed up (hyperarousal)
- Having more negative feelings and beliefs1
Long-Term Effects of PTSD
For many people struggling with PTSD, using alcohol or drugs for relief of symptoms may seem like a good idea. But mixing PTSD with a substance is making a serious illness more complicated. PTSD, like other forms of mental illness can be improved and managed through proper treatment, including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, group therapy and support groups.2
Along with addiction, sufferers of untreated PTSD are likely to experience severe consequences including the following:
- Anger management issues: For some the moments of recurring stress and anxiety result in outbursts of anger or rage. This may result in child or spousal abuse or public violence.
- Loneliness: Because PTSD can make a person very difficult to be around and is often undiagnosed, individuals with the disease may end up isolated and alone.
- Severe depression: Serious depression is always a risk with PTSD. Many sufferers may demonstrate suicidal thoughts or actions while in the midst of a PTSD episode.
But the good news for sufferers of PTSD is that there is hope with proper treatment. Treatment can reduce the symptoms of PTSD and help those suffering manage their emotions and reduce avoidance behaviors. Nothing can change the fact that a traumatic event happened, but treatment for PTSD can help you live a full and happy life outside the grip of trauma.
Where to Find Help for PTSD
If you are struggling with panic, anxiety, depression, rage or other life-controlling issues following a traumatic incident, you may be dealing with PTSD. If someone you love is being haunted by this crippling disease, you can play a role in their recovery. Call our toll-free helpline, 901-350-4575, 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. We are here for you. Call us now.
1 PTSD: National Center for PTSD. “What Is PTSD?” Negative Coping and PTSD - PTSD: National Center for PTSD. 1 Jan. 2007.
2 “PTSD Treatments.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association. 21 July 2017.
3 Tull, Matthew, and Steven Gans. “Is There a Cure for PTSD?” Verywell Mind (verywellmind.com). 3 May 2018.