Will Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Get PTSD?

Will Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Get PTSD?Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the physiological and psychological disease that affects so many soldiers, first responders and victims of violent crime or tragedy. While the symptoms of PTSD have been recorded for centuries, the understanding of this unique condition has only recently begun to develop.

What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

The brain controls a wide range of emotional and psychological functions through an intricate and somewhat fragile system of chemical signals. When a person is exposed to emotionally intense situations, this system can become overstimulated like a circuit board that receives too much electricity. There are several types of experiences that can cause the emotional response system of the brain to become overwhelmed, and these include the following:

  • Live combat conditions in war environments
  • Being the victim of violent crime
  • Experiencing a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, fire or tsunami
  • Witnessing the severe injury or death of a friend of loved one
  • Exposure to large scale death
  • Exposure to a large explosion

These types of traumatic experiences can cause the brain to shut down or to use various coping mechanisms that can lead to long-term psychological problems. PTSD symptoms can begin immediately after the traumatic event that triggered them or may not present until months or even years later. These symptoms include the following:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Relational distance
  • Physical abuse of loved ones
  • Rage or temper issues
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression with or without suicidal tendencies

In many cases the victims of PTSD do not recognize their own symptoms. It is often up to friends and family to help their loved ones get the treatment they need. Because so many of the most frequent victims of this disease are reluctant to ask for help, the disease may continue and increase in intensity.

Does Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

The contraction of PTSD is not automatic or guaranteed. While it is impossible to predict exactly who might develop the disorder, there are several risk factors such as the following:

  • Individual or family history of mental illness
  • Frequent proximity to dangerous conditions or deadly events
  • Access to little or no community support after exposure to trauma
  • History of substance abuse prior to the stressful event
  • Added stresses following the event such as the death of a loved one

There are also certain resilience factors that may reduce the risk of developing PTSD symptoms, and these include the following:

  • Willingness to seek help to process stressful events
  • Access to support groups and individual counseling
  • The ability to actively process emotions
  • Developing healthy coping strategies
  • Strong family support

How Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treated?

PTSD is most effectively treated through a combination of medical and psychological therapies. Psychotherapy involves talking through the emotions, thoughts and physiological responses associated with PTSD and learning strategic methods for changing them.

If the source of the trauma is ongoing such as exposure to abusive relationships or high-anxiety professions, then all aspects of the disease must be identified and treated.

Where Can Reliable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Be Found?

If you or someone you love is struggling with symptoms that you fear may be related to posttraumatic stress disorder, please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. Our recovery counselors can connect you with the best treatment resources for your exact needs. Call today.

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