PTSD (the acronym that is commonly used to refer to the term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”) is, as its name implies, an emotional disorder that results from experiencing a traumatic occurrence.
Commonly associated with military members who have survived combat, PTSD can affect children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults (men and women) of all ages and from all socio-economic levels — regardless of whether or not these individuals have or had any affiliation with the military. Though armed combat can absolutely be a source of trauma (and thus a precursor to PTSD), it is far from the only experience that falls into this category.
The following are among the many other forms of trauma that can lead to the development of PTSD:
It is also important to note that the “trauma” being referred to here is emotional trauma — thus, depending upon the individual and the experience, even those who witness an event such as the ones described above may be at risk for developing PTSD. For example, a child who continually watches one parent abuse another could develop PTSD, as could an onlooker who witnesses a horrific car accident or violent crime. As alluded to in these two examples, trauma (and resultant PTSD) can involve experiences that occur in an instant or over decades.
PTSD can manifest itself in a wide range of symptoms, including:
As is also the case in people who struggle with non-trauma-related depression and other mood disorders, individuals who develop PTSD may abuse alcohol or other drugs as a means of self-medicating or numbing themselves from the pain of their disorder. This substance abuse can be problematic in itself, and can also lead to addiction and other issues that can exacerbate the PTSD symptoms while also making a diagnosis more difficult.
In addition to co-occurring disorders that may mask the PTSD, other common obstacles to treatment include the hoplessness, worthlessness, and despair that are common hallmarks of the disorder. Thus, in many cases, the first step to treatment for PTSD is convincing the sufferer that he or she is actually worthy of feeling better.
PTSD Treatment program can be very successful. If you or someone you care about is suffering from PTSD, know this: You are not alone, you are worthy of feeling better, and a future free of PTSD is closer than you realize.