Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly referred to as PTSD, is a major issue amongst veterans and active servicemen and women. However, this condition affects many people outside of military service members as well. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 60% of men and 50% of women will experience at least one traumatic experience within their lifetime. Many, however not all, of those men and women will develop PTSD. It is reported that approximately eight percent of the American population will experience PTSD at one time or another within their lives. Each year, roughly eight million American adults will battle this condition. It is also noted that women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
Causes of PTSD
PTSD is a psychological condition that is caused by personally experiencing one or more traumatic events or witnessing traumatic events. This condition can be brought on by many different types of events. The most common example of a cause of PTSD is combat exposure; however, there are dozens of causes for the development of this condition. Those who endured physical or sexual abuse or who experienced serious accidents can develop PTSD, as can those who have survived natural disasters or terrorist attacks. However, the trauma that one experiences does not have to be this severe, as PTSD can develop in those who have experienced divorce, the loss of a loved one, family conflict, abandonment, and more.
From a more scientific standpoint, PTSD is reported to be more likely to occur in those who have a predisposition (genetically or environmentally) to anxiety or depression, as well as based on one’s temperament. The manner in which the chemicals and hormones in one’s mind and body operate can also impact one’s likelihood of developing PTSD when trauma occurs. Other factors that can play into one’s potential development of PTSD can include exposure to previous traumas, one’s gender (women are more vulnerable to PTSD than men), a family history of mental illness, and childhood adversity.
Experiencing one or more traumatic event that leads to a diagnosis of PTSD can also lead to a diagnosis of a number of other mental illnesses. Studies show that those who are struggling with PTSD are also more likely to be diagnosed with conditions such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, and schizophrenia, to name a few.
How to Help Someone Who Has PTSD
If someone you care for is struggling with PTSD, you are likely noticing symptoms that are alarming to you, as well as to others. Someone who is not being treated for PTSD can exhibit symptoms including substance abuse, hypervigilance, problems concentrating, problems sleeping, avoidance tactics, re-experiencing trauma, and detachment from others. Witnessing a loved one grapple with these symptoms can be difficult, which is why it is important to obtain as much information as possible so you can help him or her get the care he or she needs to overcome his or her struggles.
The most imperative thing that you can do for your loved one is educate yourself on PTSD, including the causes of it, the symptoms that might occur, and what treatments are available. Understanding the mental state that your loved one is in can be tremendously helpful to both of you at this trying time.
As you educate yourself, be sure to offer support to your loved one through both yourself and others who care for him or her. Helping him or her maintain a solid network of support can be beneficial both during his or her active PTSD symptoms and throughout his or her treatment and beyond. Ensure that you and this support system remain attentive of your loved one, always being sure to listen to him or her. Allowing your loved one to be expressive (and feel comfortable doing so) can be critical for his or her wellbeing.
Understand that your loved one likely has numerous triggers that can bring on symptoms of PTSD. Speak with your loved one so you can be aware of what these trigger points are so that you can be supportive when he or she experiences them.
These are just a handful of ways in which you can help someone who has PTSD. It is critical for someone with this mental health condition to obtain professional help as well. Professional treatment can include the use of medications such as antidepressants or antianxiety medications, as well as psychotherapy techniques such as exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring. In addition, those receiving treatment for PTSD might also engage in talk therapy, which can be helpful in allowing them to sort through their emotions, experiences, and goals for their care.
At The Refuge, we specialize in providing treatment for PTSD, as well as trauma. We offer care for individuals who have experienced a number of different traumatic experiences, ranging from abandonment and adultery to rape and suicide. We recognize that when PTSD remains untreated it can lead to more serious issues. We utilize our 12-step programming to help each and every individual who comes through our doors looking for care. We stand firm in the belief that trauma can be treated, and we go above and beyond to improve the lives of each of our patients every day so that they can achieve their goals of defeating the symptoms of PTSD once and for all.