Five Things You Probably Don’t Know About PTSD

Posted on: July 20th, 2016 by Hannah Bessinger 14 Comments

 

5 Things You Probably Do Not Know About PTSD

 

Like many mental illnesses, PTSD is widely misunderstood. When most people think of the term, they imagine shell-shocked veterans returning from war, traumatized by their experiences. And while this image of veterans battling PTSD is an important one, it is far from the whole truth of this condition.

In support of anyone dealing with this illness, let’s explore a few lesser known facts about it.

1) It impacts more people than you think.

An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point during their lifetime, and 3.6 percent of American adults will experience PTSD in any given year. This means that you have likely encountered several individuals with PTSD during your lifetime.

2. It doesn’t just happen to veterans.

PTSD was first identified among combat veterans, and it has become a condition almost synonymous with people returning from war. However, not all veterans have PTSD, and the condition can be triggered by a variety of other traumatic events. The numbers for veterans? It is estimated that 30% of soldiers who have been in combat zones will experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25% of combat veterans will experience partial PTSD at some point. What is surprising is that combat veterans are not the population most likely to get PTSD. Victims of sexual assault are slightly more likely to develop the condition, with it occurring in an estimated 31% of rape victims. Survivors of other traumatic events such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, childhood abuse, and car accidents are also likely to show symptoms of PTSD. It is important to realize that this condition does not just have one face. It can impact anyone.

3. It can be easily mistaken for other conditions.

PTSD can easily be misdiagnosed because sufferers often develop depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors once the disorder has set in. Why? The condition can cause people to lose sleep, become isolated and irritable, and eventually become depressed, or even suicidal. Many people with PTSD will undergo dramatic personality changes in a short amount of time, which can be confusing. Unless treatment professionals are careful, they can diagnose the surface symptoms without finding the underlying cause.

4. It doesn’t always appear right after the traumatic event.

It can take months or even years for PTSD to develop in individuals exposed to trauma. This is contrary to depictions of the condition in popular culture, where sufferers are often shown developing the condition directly after the triggering event. This also makes the condition even harder to spot, since the sufferer may not even realize that a traumatic past event is causing their symptoms.

5. There is more than one type of PTSD.

Most people assume that PTSD is a clearly defined condition that tends to occur the same way in all impacted individuals. However, the reality is actually more complex. Medical professionals have defined five different types of PTSD, and which type a person develops can be influenced by a variety of factors.

So what are the five types?

Normal Stress Response

A normal stress response is triggered by a single traumatic event. It occurs in adulthood and can cause emotional distress and numbing, unpleasant memories that are more intense than usual, isolation, physical problems, and other symptoms. This condition is a normal response to extremely stressful situations, and it normally resolves itself within a few weeks. If the condition persists, therapy or other medical treatment can be helpful.

Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is similar to a normal stress response, but it is taken to an extreme. The sufferer will experience confusion and may have dissociative episodes. An individual experiencing acute stress disorder may be unable to maintain their normal work activities and relationships, and may even stop performing basic acts of self-care. This reaction normally occurs only in survivors of intense traumatic situations, such as a situation that results in a near death experience. This condition can be treated with medication and therapy.

Uncomplicated PTSD

This is the type of PTSD that you are probably most familiar with, since it is closest to the type often portrayed in popular culture. It occurs when an individual has persistent flashbacks to a single traumatic event. It causes increased arousal symptoms and emotional numbness. It generally also causes the sufferer to go to great lengths to avoid any stimuli associated with the trauma.

Comorbid PTSD

Comorbid PTSD occurs when the sufferer has both PTSD and one or more accompanying conditions. Common conditions that occur alongside PTSD are depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. Interestingly, comorbid PTSD is more common than uncomplicated PTSD.

Complex PTSD

Complex PTSD tends to be found in individuals who have experienced periods of prolonged trauma or extreme stress. Survivors of long-term childhood abuse, for example, are likely to develop this type of PTSD. This type of PTSD is less obvious to identify than others, and often suffers will self-medicate with alcohol, drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual addictions, and other self-destructive actions. Depression, panic, rage, and trouble regulating emotional states can be caused by this condition. Because this condition makes it difficult to manage emotions and can cause individuals to act out, sufferers are often diagnosed with other disorders, such as borderline disorder or antisocial personality disorder. Treatment for this type of PTSD can take longer than the treatment for other types. This is because this type of PTSD is caused by long-term repeated trauma, rather than a singular traumatic event. However, it can be treated with persistent work with therapists and other health professionals trained in trauma recovery.

These are just a few of the things that you probably did not know about PTSD. The most important thing to remember is that this condition can affect anyone. If you or any of your loved ones exhibit symptoms of PTSD, it is important to get the help of a mental health professional sooner, rather than later. The earlier this condition is treated, the less chance there is of developing harmful secondary conditions.

 


 

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder
http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder
http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html
http://www.va.gov/health/newsfeatures/2013/june/27-things-you-should-know-about-ptsd.asp
http://www.ruralhealth.va.gov/docs/ruralclergytraining/ptsd.pdf
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-to-know-about-ptsd_us_56cddb03e4b0928f5a6deb07
https://mainweb-v.musc.edu/vawprevention/research/mentalimpact.shtml
http://psychcentral.com/lib/types-of-ptsd/

About Author

Hannah Bessinger is a freelance writer and digital marketer based in Raleigh, NC. She earned an MFA in writing from North Carolina State University, and she continues to be obsessed with the power of story in everyday life. She enjoys writing about all things health and fitness related and is an advocate for stopping the stigma that surrounds mental illness. In her free time she loves to hike, read, and play with her pet parrot. She blogs about writing and other things at hannahbessinger.com.

Comments

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  1. Savinggreenmama

    I didn’t know there was 5 kinds. That is very interesting.
    -Jessica

     · 
  2. Mai Cochico

    I had no idea about the statistics, but I’m aware that PTSD is not just for veterans and soldiers. It’s definitely for people who have gone through something traumatic in life. They need all the support that we can give them simply because life is far more difficult for them to bear. Thanks for this post, it made me more aware of PTSD.

     · 
    • Hannah Bessinger

      You are welcome!

       · 
    • RecallGuide

      Thanks again, Mai. PTSD can even be experienced as a result of witnessing a horrific event happen to others on tv or reading about it in the news. Many individuals show signs of the disorder as a result of the tragic events that took place on September 11th 2001, for example. The more support, the better.

       · 
  3. SwankyRecipes

    Thank you for educating others of PTSD. I have a few friends who suffer from it. I’m always there to help them with anything they need as well as making home cooked meals once in awhile!

     · 
    1. Savinggreenmama

      I didn’t know there was 5 kinds. That is very interesting.
      -Jessica

       · 
    2. Mai Cochico

      I had no idea about the statistics, but I’m aware that PTSD is not just for veterans and soldiers. It’s definitely for people who have gone through something traumatic in life. They need all the support that we can give them simply because life is far more difficult for them to bear. Thanks for this post, it made me more aware of PTSD.

       · 
      • Hannah Bessinger

        You are welcome!

         · 
      • RecallGuide

        Thanks again, Mai. PTSD can even be experienced as a result of witnessing a horrific event happen to others on tv or reading about it in the news. Many individuals show signs of the disorder as a result of the tragic events that took place on September 11th 2001, for example. The more support, the better.

         · 
    3. SwankyRecipes

      Thank you for educating others of PTSD. I have a few friends who suffer from it. I’m always there to help them with anything they need as well as making home cooked meals once in awhile!

       · 
    4. Vyjay Rao

      These are really some useful pointers on PTSD. You have busted may common myths about PTSD. Thanks for sharing.

       · 
    5. awanderingvine

      Wow, I didn’t know there were five different types of PTSD. This is great information, and very helpful.

       · 
    6. Marceline Dementori

      PTSD is a serious condition and we should be more understanding to those who have them. It’s not easy to deal with the symptoms everyday, as if life isn’t hard enough as it is!

       · 
    7. Martina Williams

      I didn’t know anything about PTSD before reading your article. I never encountered anyone suffering from it so far.

       · 
      • RecallGuide

        Thanks for reading, Martina. Now that you know the signs it will be easier to recognize. Not everyone does, so this information may come in handy one day and enable you to help someone else.

         · 

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