Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder caused by traumatic, distressing and extremely stressful events. It can affect a person’s quality of life in the long run. With treatment and coping skills, it is possible to overcome the trauma and live better.
- What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
- Prevalence Of PTSD
- Understanding PTSD
- Types Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Symptoms Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In Children
- What Is Complex PTSD?
- Causes Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Risk Factors For PTSD
- PTSD Comorbid Conditions
- Diagnosis Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Treatment Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Coping Strategies For PTSD
- Helping Someone With PTSD
- Prevention Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- PTSD Complications
- Recovery From PTSD Is Possible
- Take This Free PTSD Test
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD, also commonly known as battle fatigue syndrome or shell shock, is a mental health condition triggered by traumatic or terrifying events, which are either witnessed or experienced. It is an anxiety disorder that may lead to feelings of intense fear, intrusive thoughts, helplessness, flashbacks and nightmares. MindJournal experts state “Individuals suffering from PTSD tend to relive the traumatic moment(s) through flashbacks, intrusive memories and frequent nightmares. They intentionally avoid triggers that can remind them of the event and cause intense anxiety which can disrupt their normal functioning.” It can often be caused by witnessing or experiencing certain events, like –
- A natural disaster, like a tsunami or a hurricane
- A sudden death of a loved one
- Physical or sexual assault or rape
- A crime, like robberies or a homicide
A 2007 study explains that it “is a specific psychiatric diagnosis based on abnormal or unusual feelings or behaviors that remain more than 4 weeks after exposure to a traumatic stressor, clustering in three areas that interfere with daily functioning: re-experiencing the trauma, avoiding the stimuli associated with the trauma, and experiencing increased arousal levels.” In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 1 ), this anxiety problem is categorized as “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders”. Sufferers may experience an increased sense of danger due to their altered fight-or-flight response. It can also alter certain bodily functions, like release of specific hormones, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing and heightened alertness. This can make them feel stressed, anxious and afraid even though they are in a safe environment.
Most individuals who experience a traumatic event, involving a perceived or real threat of death or injury, may respond with anger, fear, shock, anxiety, shame or guilt. Such reactions are usually common and tend to alleviate with time. However, for people with post traumatic stress disorder these difficult emotions can often become more severe and intense in the long run and may substantially affect their daily functioning. Sufferers tend to experience the symptoms for over a month and are unable to function properly after the triggering event. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD.”
Having post traumatic stress disorder is not a sign of weakness or defect. Although it can disrupt a patient’s life for several years, a person can reduce symptoms and overcome the conditions with effective treatment.
Prevalence Of PTSD
A recent scientific analysis 2 states “Following the traumatic event, PTSD is common and is one of the serious health concerns that is associated with comorbidity, functional impairment, and increased mortality with suicidal ideations and attempts.” It reveals that around 5% to 10% of the population are affected by this disorder after a traumatic event in their lives. However, the prevalence rates may “vary depending upon the specific population being considered.” It has been observed that rescue workers, emergency personnel and loved ones of victims tend to develop the condition often. PTSD is also highly common in war veterans and hence, it was formerly known as battle fatigue.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 30% of Vietnam Veterans experience the disorder in their lifetime, while 12% of Gulf War veterans have the condition in a given year. However, this mental disorder can affect anyone, irrespective of their occupation or age. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reveals that about 3.6% of adult American citizens are affected by PTSD and about 37% of patients diagnosed with the condition tend to have severe symptoms. It has also been observed that women are more likely to be affected by it than men. It may also affect children due to different experiences. According to the National Center for PTSD, 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma sometime in their lives.
The condition is associated with anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse. According to the Harvard Medical School, “People with PTSD are more likely to have a personality disorder. They also are more likely to have depression and to abuse substances.” People with PTSD also have a higher risk of suicide 3 & deliberate self-harm.
The disorder was initially known as combat neurosis during the World Wars. However, due to the large volume of U.S. military veterans being diagnosed by the condition during the Vietnam War, the mental disorder was identified as post-traumatic stress disorder in the 1970s. The American Psychiatric Association recognised PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition (DSM-III) in 1980.
Most of us experience terrifying events in our lives. Life-threatening events like death or a crime, car accident, rape, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack can often cause severe stress and trauma. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) explains “It’s not unusual for people who have experienced traumatic events to have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories when something terrible happens.” Although some can recover over time with the support of loved ones, others may develop PTSD, which can last a lifetime, when left untreated. Instead of getting better overtime, a sufferer can become –
- Feel helplessness
They can deliberately take extreme measures to avoid triggers, people or situations that may remind them of the traumatic event and this can significantly disrupt their lives. They can even react negatively to startling sensations, like unexpected touches, bright lights or loud noises. But each patient may experience the condition differently. Although the traumatic event or experience may be similar for some people, they may be affected by the disorder in very unique ways. The American Psychiatric Association states “People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.”
In case the symptoms appear immediately after the traumatic event and lasts for one month, the disorder may be identified as acute stress disorder 4 . If the symptoms last for over a month, then it may be diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder. If the symptoms appear 6 months after the trauma, then it may be a delayed expression of the disorder. “A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting traumatic event. However, the exposure could be indirect rather than first hand,” adds American Psychiatric Association. The disorder can occur by witnessing or learning about traumatic events or from repeated exposure to unpleasant details of the terrifying event. However, this usually does not include exposure to violence through news reports or media. Media exposure may be considered for diagnosis only if it is a crucial part of the work, like first responders or law enforcement officers.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of PTSD in both men and women. In women, rape frequently results in PTSD, and some women develop PTSD after a traumatic childbirth.” Child abuse, specifically sexual abuse, may also result in the development of the disorder, even in the absence of force. It can also develop after certain serious health conditions, like a diagnosis of cancer or heart attack. In fact, studies 5 show that around 1 in 8 individuals tend to develop PTSD after having a heart attack. The likelihood of post traumatic stress disorder developing is considerably higher in individuals who are financially unstable, socially isolated or single. This is perhaps due to the lack of resources or social support that can enable them to cope with it and recover.
Types Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Although it is a single mental health condition, experts often categorize the disorder into further subtypes, identified as condition specifiers, based on the severity of the symptoms. The categorization may help doctors and mental health professionals to diagnose and treat the condition better and more easily. Here are some of the common types of PTSD:
1. Normal stress response
Before the onset of PTSD, we often experience a normal stress response. However, it does not necessarily lead to post traumatic stress disorder. Most healthy people experience distress, bodily tension, isolation, emotional numbing and bad memories after a single traumatic experience. However, they usually recover completely in a few weeks. Normal stress response is our natural reaction to threat or stressors which can be cured with care and support from loved ones. Group or individual therapy and education can be helpful.
2. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)
Although it is often confused with post traumatic stress disorder, ASD is a separate condition. It is a group of symptoms which occur within a month of the traumatic experience. This disorder is characterized by suspiciousness, intense insomnia, mental confusion, panic attacks, dissociation etc. It may even lead to difficulties in work, relationships and self care. If left untreated, individuals suffering from acute stress disorder can develop PTSD. ASD can be effectively treated with medication, therapy and support.
3. Uncomplicated PTSD
This subtype is related to a single major traumatic experience, instead of multiple events. This disorder occurs when the sufferer has specific symptoms, such avoiding triggers, nightmares or reliving the trauma. However, the person does not have any others mental conditions, like anxiety or depression. This is perhaps the most commonly diagnosed type of the disorder and the easiest to treat with therapy and medication.
4. Complicated PTSD
Also known as Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is caused by multiple traumas. While PTSD can be triggered due to a single event, like a car accident or an episode of assault, CPTSD is usually refers to the emotional repercussions of chronic, continued trauma. It involves all symptoms of the uncomplicated subtype but requires better and more intensive treatment.
5. Comorbid PTSD
It is a blanket term that involves all co-occurring mental conditions. Comorbid PTSD is identified when the patient has multiple psychological disorders that may be worsened by substance abuse. People with this subtype often have conditions, like anxiety disorders, panic disorder or depression along with symptoms of PTSD. Sufferers should be treated not only for post traumatic stress disorder but also for the co-occuring conditions, including addiction issues, for complete recovery. This form of the disorder is highly common.
6. Dissociative PTSD
This particular subtype occurs when the sufferer detaches themselves from the traumatic event. The patient can have out of body experiences and may feel separated from the trauma. The dissociative subtype 6 of post-traumatic stress disorder has been recently added to the DSM-5. A 2018 study 7 states that the dissociative subtype is “marked by symptoms of derealization (e.g., feeling like you are in a dream) and depersonalization (e.g., feeling like you are outside of your body).” Psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy can help a person to recover.
Symptoms Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be explained as follows:
1. Clusters of PTSD symptoms
According to a 2016 study 8 , the symptoms of PTSD are usually categorized in the following four clusters:
A. Re-experiencing symptoms
This typically includes intrusive memories which can make the patient relive the original traumatic event. It may involve recurring flashbacks, involuntary memories, intrusive thoughts, nightmares etc.
B. Avoidance symptoms
The patient may be highly prone to avoid anything that may remind them of the traumatic event, such as conversations, people, places, activities or even certain items. It can also lead to social withdrawal as well.
C. Negative changes in cognitions and mood
This can include undesirable changes on mood and thoughts such as distorted beliefs & perceptions, inability to recall details about the trauma, emotional numbing, persistent guilt or shame, feeling isolated or alienated etc.
D. Arousal and reactivity
This cluster of PTSD symptoms involve alterations in arousal or reactivity symptoms. This can make a person feel exceptionally nervous, particularly to triggers reminding of the event. This can include difficulty concentrating, insomnia, reckless behavior, hypervigilance, irritability etc.
2. Common symptoms of PTSD
Apart from the clusters, there are many other common symptoms which can be considered for an accurate diagnosis. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach pain and diarrhea
- Chronic pain or muscle cramps
- Sleep disturbances
- Nausea, fainting or vomiting
- Irritability or agitation
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty in emotion regulation
- Severe anxiety
- Alcohol, medication or substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
A person can be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder if the symptoms last for over 4 weeks and cause serious distress affecting daily normal functioning.
Read More About Symptoms Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Here
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In Children
PTSD can affect children as well following a variety of traumatic experiences. Young children, adolescents and teens may also develop this disorder and usually the symptoms are different than the ones observed in adult sufferers. NIMH reveals that around 5% of adolescents 9 experience post-traumatic stress disorder and about 1.5% have severe impairment. Similar to adults, the condition in children can be categorized as serious, moderate or mild impairment. It has been found that the disorder is more common during later teenage years. An estimated 3.7% of 13-14 year olds and around 7% of 17-18-year-old teens tend to develop the condition. However, the condition is usually diagnosed in young children above 6 years of age.
Children may develop the condition due to a number of factors, such as –
- A traumatic event, like a car accident or natural disaster
- Exposure to unexpected violence, like domestic violence, homicide, terrorism
- Dysfunctional interpersonal relationship, like abuse, maltreatment, incest, abandonment & neglect
- Exposure to real‐life violence in the media, like World Trade Center destruction
- Personal loss, death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, house fire etc
- Preexisting mental health conditions
- Family history of mental illness, like mood disorders, anxiety disorders or substance abuse
Read More About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder In Children Here
What Is Complex PTSD?
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is a relatively new term that is used to describe a related, but separate condition that develops due to multiple traumas over a long period of time. Repeated, prolonged trauma may result in more severe emotional and psychological damage than a single traumatic event. American psychiatrist & researcher Judith Lewis Herman 10 explains “In contrast to a single traumatic event, prolonged, repeated trauma can occur only where the victim is in a state of captivity, under the control of the perpetrator.” Subordination to coercive control can have severe consequences on the human psyche, whether it is a result of domestic violence, sexual relations or in poilitics.
However, one 2019 study 11 reveals that this disorder is also strongly linked with adverse childhood experiences. The researchers explain that it often “emerges after prolonged childhood trauma,” and “there are higher rates of childhood abuse in people with complex PTSD than in those with PTSD.” A 2005 study 12 claims that this severe form of the anxiety disorder is identified as a disorder of extreme stress and may be caused by exposure to prolonged traumatic experiences. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder may also be recognized by professionals as –
- Disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified (DESNOS)
- Enduring personality change after catastrophic experience (EPCACE)
A person with complex PTSD, may experience the following symptoms in addition to the common symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder:
- Difficulty with emotional regulation
- Distrustful and hostile towards others
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or emptiness
- Feeling being worthless or permanently damaged
- Negative self-perception
- Inability to relate with others
- Feeling others are unable to understand you
- Dissociative feelings, like depersonalisation or derealization
- Constant suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
According to a 2018 scientific review 13 , complex PTSD involves “other psychological symptoms that arise early, repeatedly, and prolonged in time, and have been named Disturbances in Self-Organization, which affect emotional regulation, interpersonal relationships, and identity.” Complex post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by the following factors:
- Childhood abuse, abandonment or neglect
- Frequent domestic violence or relationship abuse
- Torture, kidnapping or slavery
- Being a prisoner of war
- Being forced into prostitution
- Experiencing multiple traumas
- Survivors of long-term sexual or physical abuse
Mental Health America explains that although it is not recognized as an official diagnosis in the DSM-5, C-PTSD affects people who have experienced inescapable chronic traumas for months or years that they had no control over. MHA adds “It is important to note that you may have both PTSD and C-PTSD at the same time.” Effective treatment, like therapy focused on developing a sense of control in the patient can help them recover.
Causes Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is mainly caused by an exposure to a traumatic event, whether experiencing it directly, witnessing the event or learning about it. The definition of a ‘traumatic event’ may vary for each individual. However, some common life-threatening or harmful events that can be considered traumatic in general and which may lead to the development of this condition, include –
- A natural or manmade disaster
- A sudden death or terminal illness of a loved one
- Sexual assault like rape or molestation
- Traumatic childbirth
- Physical assault or a violent attack
- Physical abuse
- Childhood abuse, being bullied or harassed, like sexism or racism
- Witnessing a murder or a serious crime
- An act of terrorism
- An accident, like a plane crash or a car accident
- Military combat or war
- Kidnapping or being held as a hostage
- Refugee status
- Political imprisonment or torture
- Coronavirus pandemic
- Being diagnosed with a terminal illness
- Any life-threatening or fearful event
- Being engaged in a job that requires hearing disturbing details or viewing distressing images, like in armed forces, journalism or emergency services
Apart from these biological factors, brain structure and genetics 14 can also cause the development of the condition. According to a 2003 study 15 , patients with post-traumatic stress disorder tend to have a “smaller-than-normal hippocampal volume.” Research also shows that abnormal levels of stress hormones are observed in patients with PTSD. Apart from these, other mental health conditions can also increase the risk of onset.
Risk Factors For PTSD
Certain risk factors tend to determine the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder in some individuals. Some of common PTSD risk factors may include the following:
- History of psychiatric disorders
- Childhood trauma
- Lack of support from loved ones after the event
- Gender of the individual
- Low socio‐demographic background
- Family dynamics
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Substance use
- Additional stress after the trauma
Read More About Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Causes And Risk Factors Here
PTSD Comorbid Conditions
Approximately 80% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder tend to have at least one co-occuring mental health condition. A 2000 study found that several comorbid psychiatric disorders are common with PTSD. It states “Data from epidemiologic surveys indicate that the vast majority of individuals with PTSD meet criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder, and a substantial percentage have 3 or more other psychiatric diagnoses.” some of the most common comorbid conditions associated with this disorder, include:
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Substance use disorders
- Phobias, such as agoraphobia
- Suicidal behavior
The comorbidity of major depressive disorder is perhaps the most significant as a major volume of symptoms tend to overlap. In a research paper 16 , Janine D Flory, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA, explains “Comorbidity between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder is common, with approximately half of people with PTSD also having a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) across diverse epidemiological samples.” However, the comorbidity of substance abuse can be complicated as substance use disorder can begin as an effort for self-medicating PTSD symptoms, while withdrawal can worsen the symptoms. According to a 2015 study, people affected by post traumatic stress disorder have a higher risk of suffering from poor physical health issues, such as –
- Somatoform disorder 17
- Cardiorespiratory disorder
- Musculoskeletal disorder
- Gastrointestinal disorder
- Immunological disorder
Diagnosis Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
According to a 2018 study, “In DSM-5, PTSD migrated from the group of Anxiety Disorders to a new group named Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders.” The condition can only be diagnosed after one month of the traumatic event. A doctor or a mental health professional will evaluate the patient if PTSD symptoms are present by checking their medical history and performing a physical exam. As there are no specific lab tests for diagnosing this condition, a doctor may conduct a number of tests to rule out any other physical conditions for causing the symptoms.
Once physical illnesses have been ruled out as possible causes, the doctor may refer you to a mental health professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or other experts who are trained to diagnose & treat psychological conditions. A mental health professional will start by conducting a psychological evaluation that may include a specifically designed interview. The objective is to understand the particular symptoms and the traumatic event(s) that led to the disorder. The doctor may also use assessment tools, like Davidson Trauma Scale 20 or Distressing Event Questionnaire 21 , to determine PTSD and other comorbid conditions. Once the doctor determines the degree and severity of the symptoms, they will design an effective treatment plan that will enable you to overcome the condition.
Read More About Diagnosis Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Here
Treatment Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Although there is no specific cure for PTSD, treatment primarily depends on a multidimensional approach involving psychotherapeutic and pharmacological interventions. Apart from these, social support and patient education can also play a crucial role in the recovery process. A healthcare professional may recommend psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both 22 for effective treatment. Generally, treatment is aimed at relieving the psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. It is also focused on improving the quality of life of the patient and enhancing their daily functioning. Treatment can also help the patient to overcome the trauma over time and better manage triggers and stressors when they occur. Available PTSD treatment options include the following:
For the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotherapeutic interventions are considered to be the most effective treatment option. Some common therapy techniques recommended for this disorder includes –
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT 23 )
- Exposure therapy
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)
- Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR 24 )
- Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
- Hypnotherapy 25
- Psychodynamic therapy
There are no specific medications for the treatment of this condition. However, a doctor may prescribe the following types of medicines for manage and relieve certain symptoms –
- Mood stabilizers
- Antipsychotic medications
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Sleep aids
- Adrenergic inhibitors
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD may need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.”
Read More About Treatment Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Here
Coping Strategies For PTSD
A person affected with post traumatic stress disorder can recover from it through accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and by following certain self-care strategies. There are different coping strategies that you may develop to identify triggers, relieve symptoms, overcome fears and boost the recovery process. But keep in mind, these strategies can only work when you are seeking medical care under the guidance of a mental health professional. Here are a few helpful and effective tips to implement during treatment:
- Learn everything about PTSD and educate your loved ones how it affects your thoughts, emotions and behavior
- Practice mindfulness-based relaxation techniques, like meditation and deep breathing, to reduce stress and anxiety
- Engage in regular exercise or physical activity as it can improve your mood and relieve stress
- Use journaling or expressive writing to honestly express your thoughts and feelings as it can improve your mental and emotional health
- Get enough sleep and follow a nutritious diet on a daily basis
- Engage in self-care practices and do things that you enjoy, like pursuing hobbies and passions
- Avoid smoking, coffee, alcohol and illegal drugs
- Socialize with your friends and family and do not isolate yourself
- Join a support group to meet other like-minded people and learn from them
- Strictly follow your treatment plan and take medications as instructed by your doctor
Coping is a part of the recovery process. Making small lifestyle changes can leave a great positive impact. The MHA states “Research shows exercise, meditation, and yoga can all improve mood and overall well being… Other things like taking time to take care of yourself, trying activities you enjoy, and spending time with people or environments where you feel supported can help as well.”
Read More About Coping With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Here
Helping Someone With PTSD
Helping a loved one recover from post-traumatic stress disorder can be taxing and demanding. However, it is important that you remain supportive throughout the treatment process and take care of your own mental well-being as well. Here are a few tips for family members with patients coping with PTSD:
Educate yourself about the condition, symptoms, complications and treatment. Known as Psychoeducation 26 , it is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that can enable you to better care for the patient.
2. Be supportive
Provide emotional & mental support. PTSD patients often tend to socially isolate themselves as they find the symptoms too overbearing. By being caring and supportive, you can make them feel that they are not alone.
3. Follow the treatment plan
Encourage the patient to seek medical attention and help them stick to the treatment plan properly. Book appointments for them, encourage them to take medicines as prescribed and accompany them during their therapy sessions.
4. Ask for help
Seek support from other family members, relatives and friends or hire a professional caregiver if caring for the patient becomes too demanding for you.
5. Practice self-care
Focus on your own physical and mental health, learn ways to cope with stress and anxiety, practice relaxation techniques and seek therapy for yourself, if needed.
Prevention Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
There is no specific or effective way to prevent traumatic events which result in PTSD symptoms. However, there are certain things which a person can do to protect themselves from certain symptoms like flashbacks. According to the NIMH, “not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD.” Here some resilience factors which may promote recovery and reduce the risk for onset after trauma, as per NIMH:
- Seeking support from trusted loved ones
- Being resilient and self confident
- Developing a positive coping strategy to overcome the traumatic experience
- Having the ability to respond and act successfully despite feeling trauma, anxiety and fear
- Joining a local support group to meet others coping with PTSD
- Developing skills to appreciate self and own actions even when facing challenges and danger
“With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and to prevent it,” adds NIMH. Apart from these, early intervention can also reduce specific symptoms and may even help in prevention. Moreover, critical incident stress management (CISM) may also help to reduce the risk of post traumatic stress disorder. Researchers are also working on developing preventive medication, according to Harvard Health.
When left untreated, post traumatic stress disorder can adversely affect a person’s life and disrupt their daily functioning. This can even affect their health, career, relationships and overall well being. It can also lead to several mental health issues, like:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal behavior
Recovery From PTSD Is Possible
Post traumatic stress disorder is a high-profile medical phenomenon that involves a complex physical and psychological basis. However, research 27 indicates that there is strong evidence which shows treatment can be highly beneficial for patients, even when the condition has been present for several years. According to Harvard Health, “Overall, about 30% of people eventually recover completely with proper treatment, and another 40% get better, even though less-intense symptoms may remain.”
If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, then make sure to seek medical help immediately with a licensed and experienced mental health professional. This is a treatable disorder and recovery is an ongoing and gradual process. Treatment can help you manage your symptoms and feelings about the trauma. Mental Health America (MHA) concludes “While there is no one simple answer, people do recover with a combination of supports. It can take some time to find out what works best for you, but it does get better.”
Take This Free PTSD Test
[netsposts include_blog=”5″ post_type=”sfwd-quiz” taxonomy_type=”sfwd-quiz” include_post=”2848″ thumbnail=”true” size=’large’ title_color=’#197591′ show_title=’true’ excerpt_length=’10’ auto_excerpt=’true’ list=’1′ random=’true’ title_length=’40’ hide_excerpt=’false’ meta_info=’false’ wrap_text_start=” include_link_title=’true’ wrap_title_start=”” wrap_start=’
- Friedman, M. J. (2013). Finalizing PTSD in DSM-5: Getting here from there and where to go next. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(5), 548-556. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.21840
- Mann SK, Marwaha R. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. [Updated 2020 Nov 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559129/
- Panagioti, M., Gooding, P.A., Triantafyllou, K. et al. Suicidality and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 50, 525–537 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-014-0978-x
- Fanai M, Khan MAB. Acute Stress Disorder. [Updated 2020 Jul 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560815/
- Kronish, I. M., Edmondson, D., Moise, N., Chang, B. P., Wei, Y., Veneros, D. L., & Whang, W. (2018). Posttraumatic stress disorder in patients who rule out versus rule in for acute coronary syndrome. General hospital psychiatry, 53, 101–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.02.007
- van Huijstee J, Vermetten E. The Dissociative Subtype of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Research Update on Clinical and Neurobiological Features. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2018;38:229-248. doi: 10.1007/7854_2017_33. PMID: 29063485.
- Burton, M. S., Feeny, N. C., Connell, A. M., & Zoellner, L. A. (2018). Exploring evidence of a dissociative subtype in PTSD: Baseline symptom structure, etiology, and treatment efficacy for those who dissociate. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(5), 439–451. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000297
- Lancaster, C. L., Teeters, J. B., Gros, D. F., & Back, S. E. (2016). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Overview of Evidence-Based Assessment and Treatment. Journal of clinical medicine, 5(11), 105. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm5110105
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (n.d.). SpringerReference. https://doi.org/10.1007/springerreference_84078
- Herman, J. L. (1992). Complex PTSD: A syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5(3), 377-391. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.2490050305
- Bryant R. A. (2019). Post-traumatic stress disorder: a state-of-the-art review of evidence and challenges. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 18(3), 259–269. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20656
- Iribarren, J., Prolo, P., Neagos, N., & Chiappelli, F. (2005). Post-traumatic stress disorder: Evidence-based research for the third millennium. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2(4), 503-512. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/neh127
- Carvajal C. (2018). Posttraumatic stress disorder as a diagnostic entity – clinical perspectives. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 20(3), 161–168. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.3/ccarvajal
- Skelton, K., Ressler, K. J., Norrholm, S. D., Jovanovic, T., & Bradley-Davino, B. (2012). PTSD and gene variants: new pathways and new thinking. Neuropharmacology, 62(2), 628–637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.013
- Yamasue, H., Kasai, K., Iwanami, A., Ohtani, T., Yamada, H., Abe, O., Kuroki, N., Fukuda, R., Tochigi, M., Furukawa, S., Sadamatsu, M., Sasaki, T., Aoki, S., Ohtomo, K., Asukai, N., & Kato, N. (2003). Voxel-based analysis of MRI reveals anterior cingulate gray-matter volume reduction in posttraumatic stress disorder due to terrorism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9039-9043. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1530467100
- Brady KT, Killeen TK, Brewerton T, Lucerini S. Comorbidity of psychiatric disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61 Suppl 7:22-32. PMID: 10795606.
- Gupta MA. Review of somatic symptoms in post-traumatic stress disorder. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;25(1):86-99. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2012.736367. PMID: 23383670.
- Kessler RC, Sonnega A, Bromet E, Hughes M, Nelson CB. Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995 Dec;52(12):1048-60. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950240066012. PMID: 7492257.
- Sareen J, Cox BJ, Stein MB, Afifi TO, Fleet C, Asmundson GJ. Physical and mental comorbidity, disability, and suicidal behavior associated with posttraumatic stress disorder in a large community sample. Psychosom Med. 2007 Apr;69(3):242-8. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31803146d8. Epub 2007 Mar 30. PMID: 17401056.
- Davidson JR, Book SW, Colket JT, Tupler LA, Roth S, David D, Hertzberg M, Mellman T, Beckham JC, Smith RD, Davison RM, Katz R, Feldman ME. Assessment of a new self-rating scale for post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychol Med. 1997 Jan;27(1):153-60. doi: 10.1017/s0033291796004229. PMID: 9122295.
- Kubany ES, Leisen MB, Kaplan AS, Kelly MP. Validation of a brief measure of posttraumatic stress disorder: the Distressing Event Questionnaire (DEQ). Psychol Assess. 2000 Jun;12(2):197-209. doi: 10.1037//1040-3522.214.171.124. PMID: 10887766.
- Hetrick, S. E., Purcell, R., Garner, B., & Parslow, R. (2010). Combined pharmacotherapy and psychological therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd007316.pub2
- de Arellano, M. A., Lyman, D. R., Jobe-Shields, L., George, P., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., Huang, L., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy for children and adolescents: assessing the evidence. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.), 65(5), 591–602. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300255
- Landin-Romero, R., Moreno-Alcazar, A., Pagani, M., & Amann, B. L. (2018). How Does Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy Work? A Systematic Review on Suggested Mechanisms of Action. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1395. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01395
- Lynn SJ, Malakataris A, Condon L, Maxwell R, Cleere C. Post-traumatic stress disorder: cognitive hypnotherapy, mindfulness, and acceptance-based treatment approaches. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012 Apr;54(4):311-30. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2011.645913. PMID: 22655333.
- Bäuml, J., Froböse, T., Kraemer, S., Rentrop, M., & Pitschel-Walz, G. (2006). Psychoeducation: a basic psychotherapeutic intervention for patients with schizophrenia and their families. Schizophrenia bulletin, 32 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S1–S9. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbl017
- Bisson JI, Roberts NP, Andrew M, Cooper R, Lewis C. Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 13;2013(12):CD003388. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003388.pub4. PMID: 24338345; PMCID: PMC6991463.