Education & Support

Fostering Stronger Minds, Enriching Lives:
Explore AIGAS Education for Mental Health Services

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic events, like accidents, assaults, combat, or natural disasters, can seriously affect a person’s mental health. While many have short-term reactions to life-threatening situations, some develop ongoing symptoms, which can be diagnosed as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs alongside other issues like substance use problems, depression, and anxiety. To address this, a personalized treatment plan is vital after a thorough medical evaluation.

According to the National Center for PTSD, an estimated 9.5 million adults in the United States (around 3.7%) have PTSD in 2022. Women are more likely than men to experience PTSD, with 10.4% of women and 6.8% of men having PTSD in their lifetime.

The National Center for PTSD also estimates that 37% of PTSD cases are severe. This means that people with severe PTSD have significant difficulty functioning in their daily lives.

(National Center for PTSD, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Recognizing the Signs

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: These include distressing memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts related to the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance: People may actively avoid places or things that remind them of the trauma.
  • Cognitive and mood symptoms: This includes trouble recalling the trauma, negative self-thoughts, emotional numbness, guilt, worry, and depression.
  • Arousal symptoms: Examples include hypervigilance, exaggerated startle responses, sleep issues, and anger outbursts.

Children can also get PTSD, and their symptoms may be different from adults, such as behavioral changes and developmental regression.

PTSD symptoms are often linked to the body’s response to trauma, where physical reactions prepare the body for danger. If these responses persist, posttraumatic stress symptoms can develop.

Symptoms usually appear within three months of the trauma, but delayed onset is possible. To be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last for over a month, often with other issues like depression, anxiety, or substance use.

Understanding the Causes of PTSD
The exact causes of PTSD are not fully understood, but exposure to trauma is a primary trigger. Factors like prior trauma experiences and social support can influence susceptibility.

Ways to Treat PTSD
While there’s no cure for PTSD, various treatments can manage symptoms:

  • Talk therapy, including cognitive processing therapy and group therapy.
  • Medications.
  • Self-help techniques like mindfulness to manage flashbacks.
  • Service animals, like dogs, can help with some PTSD symptoms.
  • People with PTSD may also have other mental health conditions and thoughts of suicide.

Treating PTSD can improve symptoms of related conditions, as addressing depression, anxiety, or substance use can also help with PTSD symptoms.