Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder caused by severe traumatic events. Although it’s commonly associated with soldiers returning from war, civilians can develop develop PTSD as well. PTSD has a lot of negative stigmas attached to it, but it’s a common and difficult disorder. Here are a few facts you might not know about it.
An estimated 70% of adults in the U.S. will experience at least one traumatic event in their life. Traumatic events can be anything from a car crash to a natural disaster. In many cases, it is not the severity of the event itself, but the psychological ramifications of the event, that leave people susceptible for the development of PTSD. Some trauma experts refer to the phenomenon of “moral injury” – the idea that traumatic events wound our understanding of who we fundamentally believe ourselves to be.
It’s been estimated that around 3.5% of Americans have post-traumatic stress disorder at any given time. That constitutes over 11 million people in the United States who have PTSD. It is also believed that 1 out of 11 Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. If not treated proactively, soon after the traumatic event, receiving adequate psychiatric help can be difficult. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD please contact us.
Although PTSD is a disorder commonly associated with males, women are actually twice as likely as men to develop it. An estimated 1 out of 10 women will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Common causes of post-traumatic stress disorder in women include rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and childhood abuse.
Research suggests that trauma can actually disrupt and alter brain chemistry. This partially explains why some people develop PTSD after a traumatic experience, why others are able to recover. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder remain in a heightened and prolonged state of “fight or flight,” with abnormally high levels of adrenaline and the hormone cortisol, which can remain elevated for days after being triggered. Over time, the post-traumatic stress essentially rewires the brain, making trauma resolution more difficult as time passes.
PTSD symptoms fall into one of three clusters, which are used to properly categorize them. The first is reliving the event, either through nightmares or intrusive images. The second is avoidance, in which people avoid certain places, people, thoughts or activities that may trigger the trauma. The last is hyper-arousal, which can cause irritability, sudden anger, or make sleeping difficult.
Although PTSD can consume a person’s life, there is treatment available. One of the encouraging facts about PTSD is that there are a number of therapies designed specifically for trauma treatment, such as eye movement desensitization & reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy (PET), both available at the practice of Raul J. Rodriguez, MD. The first step to dealing with unresolved trauma is to get an accurate mental health diagnosis from a professional experienced in treating PTSD. If you are suffering and need someone to talk to, contact us today.