When you think of someone who has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), you may think of a soldier of war who has endured unspeakable torture or seen horrendous deaths while in a battle, but the disorder encompasses so much more. Educating yourself about the causes of PTSD, how to recognize its symptoms, and where to seek treatment will enable you or your loved one to be able to cope with the disorder and embrace a much better quality of life.
If a group of people was exposed to the same type of trauma, some individuals would get PTSD, while others would not. Your personality, life experiences, genes, and neurological factors all play a part in whether you would suffer from the disorder. Researchers feel that when an individual faces overwhelming trauma in his or her life, sometimes the person can’t process the thoughts and feelings in a normal way. Later on, when the experience causes enormous distress, disrupts their life negatively, and intrudes into their consciousness, they are diagnosed as having PTSD.
There are some risk factors that indicate there is a greater chance that you will get PTSD if you experience trauma in your life. These include:
- Experiencing abuse or neglect as a child.
- Experiencing trauma that lasts for a long time, or seems never-ending.
- A history of mental illness in your family, or mental health concerns.
- Having an occupation that exposes you to traumatic experiences.
- A past that includes alcohol or drug abuse.
- Having few friends or close family members that you can turn to and rely on for emotional support.
- An experience of intense, severe trauma, even if it only lasts a short time.
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Causes of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that afflicts some people who have experienced an event — either alone or while in a group — that is psychologically traumatizing. Typically, it involves exposure to a situation where you feel that your life is in danger, you see someone killed or tragically injured, or you’re a victim of sexual violence. Almost any disturbing situation can cause PTSD if you are abnormally distressed, frightened, or overwhelmed by the experience. Often the victim feels powerless in the situation.
The types of situations that cause PTSD in an individual include being involved in a criminal attack, rape, incest, natural disasters such as tornadoes or earthquakes, war, an automobile crash or other serious accident, being in the middle of a life-threatening conflict, or other act of violence that threatens your well-being. People with occupations that expose them to deaths or serious injuries, such as firemen, soldiers, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders can also experience symptoms of PTSD.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
Anyone who has a traumatic experience will exhibit some pre-symptoms of PTSD, but if these symptoms last longer than 30 days or become disruptive to your life it’s important to seek help. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:
- Vivid thoughts or flashbacks that occur when you aren’t even thinking about the event. These disturbing thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. You may also experience horrid nightmares that make you feel as if you are reliving the trauma all over again.
- You find yourself avoiding experiences that remind you of the trauma. For instance, if you were in a horrific automobile accident, you may refuse to drive. If you were a victim of incest, you may find yourself making excuses not to have intercourse with your spouse.
- Victims of PTSD may feel “on edge” all the time, be nervous, or be constantly on the lookout for danger. This is called hyperarousal.
- You may startle easily, have difficulty sleeping, feel irritable quite often, be moody, or have problems concentrating. You may also have a very negative outlook on life.
- You may find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol, or engaging in reckless behavior as a way to cope with your internal turmoil.
- You may blame yourself, feel embarrassed, or be ashamed that you can’t “get over” the trauma.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be quite debilitating and prevent you from living life in a satisfying manner. It’s also unlikely to improve if you don’t obtain professional help. Participating in an effective treatment program enables you to learn to cope with the disorder, live life to the fullest, and thrive!
Effective treatment options include variations of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), such as prolonged exposure including virtual reality therapy, cognitive processing therapy, stress inoculation, and EMDR therapy. Medications — such as antidepressants and anxiety medications — are also helpful.
Whether you suffer from PTSD alone, or it coexists with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, you can find effective treatment at Transformations Treatment Center. Our caring and professional staff can help you cope, live, and thrive with this disorder and obtain a quality of life that you once thought was impossible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.