WHAT IS PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition that affects people who experience or witness a dangerous, scary, or shocking event. Trauma triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, but this feeling usually disappears shortly after a traumatic event. However, an individual who constantly feels stressed or frightened after a traumatic event — even if no danger is present — may be diagnosed with PTSD.
There are two types of PTSD: acute and chronic. Acute PTSD may cause flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety related to past trauma. Chronic PTSD occurs when a person experiences the following symptoms for at least one month after a traumatic event:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom, such as flashbacks or nightmares
- At least one avoidance symptom, such as trying to avoid thoughts or feelings related to a traumatic event and/or staying away from people, places, or things that serve as reminders of a traumatic event
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping or mood swings
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as negative thoughts or loss of interest in activities that an individual previously enjoyed
Research indicates that up to 8% of the U.S. population experiences PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can affect a person months or years after a traumatic event. The condition is a serious problem that impacts the well-being of both children and adults. PTSD symptoms can occur at any time and make it difficult for one to enjoy everyday life. Fortunately, with the ability to identify PTSD risk factors, PTSD can be treated before it severely impacts their well-being.
PTSD RISK FACTORS
The risk of experiencing PTSD varies, yet many PTSD treatment options are available, regardless of when PTSD symptoms occur or their severity. Common risk factors associated with PTSD include:
- Childhood Trauma: Childhood abuse or neglect increases the risk of PTSD.
- History of Mental Illness: People who experience Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other types of mental illness are prone to PTSD.
- Substance Abuse: Excess use of alcohol or drugs has been linked to PTSD.
- Job: Working in the military, as a first responder, or holding any other role that results in frequent exposure to traumatic events increases a person’s risk of PTSD.
In addition to the previously mentioned PTSD risk factors, there are also many factors that can promote recovery after trauma to help prevent PTSD. These include getting support from loved ones, working with a support group to cope with thoughts and feelings related to a traumatic event, and developing a positive coping strategy to help manage thoughts and feelings.
Prestige Mental Health provides medication and psychotherapy for PTSD to help our patients relieve feelings of irritability, guilt, loneliness, and other PTSD symptoms that interfere with living everyday life. We also educate our patients about PTSD causes and symptoms, and work to help them achieve long-lasting symptom relief.