Health Advocate Blog

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Get the facts

PTSD is a disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event or other threat on your life, such as an assault, traffic collision, warfare, abuse, domestic violence, or even a natural disaster.  It can last months or years, and include triggers that bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense mental and physical reactions.

It’s important to note that most people who experience traumatic events do not develop PTSD; however, recovery is possible with the proper treatments for those who do.

PTSD myths and facts

PTSD myths:

  • Only affects military veterans
  • Develops right after a traumatic event
  • Is a sign of weakness
  • Impacts everyone in the same way
  • Goes away over time
  • Is not treatable

PTSD facts:

  • Can impact anyone who experiences, witnesses, or has secondhand exposure to a traumatic event
  • May take months or years to appear
  • Is not related to weakness
  • Develops in relatively few people who experience trauma
  • Does not resolve on its own
  • Can be treated

PTSD symptoms

The symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Ongoing, unwanted upsetting memories of the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, upsetting dreams or nightmares about the event
  • Serious emotional distress/physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the event
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood (i.e. hopelessness, memory problems, feelings of detachment, apathy)
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions (i.e. easily frightened or startled, feeling on guard, self-destructive behaviors, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, aggressiveness)

The good news is that there are many effective treatments for PTSD.  They include:

  • Talk therapy (counseling)
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Drug/alcohol treatment
  • Medication

In addition, the following self-help and coping strategies may help someone suffering from PTSD:

  • Meditation. You can learn to be more mindful and aware of the present moment.
  • Staying active. PTSD and exercise can be a beneficial combination.
  • Finding a creative outlook. Art and music therapy can have a positive effect on symptoms.
  • Building a support network. Nobody has to deal with PTSD alone.