It is completely natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a normal reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.
Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Furthermore, not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. PTSD can be caused by any stressful, terrible, or distressing event. Some of the most common causes of PTSD are as follows:
- Natural disasters
- Witnessing someone being killed or seriously injured
- Unexpected, sudden death of a friend or family member
- Stabbing or shooting
- Serious injury due to an accident such as a car accident
- Sexual assault
- Physical assault
Experiencing or developing PTSD can happen to anyone at any time and currently affects roughly 3.5% of adults in the United States. It is also estimated that nearly 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women being twice as likely as men. For people suffering from PTSD, these symptoms cause significant anguish and can prohibit them from continuing to carry out their daily activities.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to the American Psychiatric Association, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying incident. Some of the most common events that result in PTSD are natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist attacks, armed robberies, war/combat, and assault.
Not everyone who experiences or witnesses a trauma will end up with PTSD, and there is no real way to determine who will and who will not. It is important to note that PTSD is not a sign of weakness; there is no way to know if a person will or will not experience PTSD symptoms after a trauma.
There are many different symptoms someone with PTSD may experience. In order for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, they do not have to experience all of the symptoms on the list. The symptoms include:
- Intrusive memories: Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event, reliving the traumatic event (flashbacks), distressing dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event, severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds the person of the trauma.
- Negative changes in thinking and mood: Negative thoughts about oneself, other people or the world, hopelessness about the future, memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event, feelings of detachment, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, feeling emotionally numb, difficulty maintaining or creating close relationships.
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Being easily startled or frightened, always being on guard, self-destructive behavior, trouble sleeping and/or concentrating; irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behaviors, overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame.
- Avoidance: Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, avoiding people, places, activities or things that remind the person of the traumatic event.
Many people who are exposed to a traumatic event will experience at least one of the above PTSD symptoms. However, for a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last for at least one month. Many people develop symptoms within the first three months following the trauma, though symptoms can appear later on.
Early Intervention and Treatment is Critical
PTSD can leave lasting scars that can completely alter a person’s character and outlook on the world for the rest of their life if left untreated. Seeking treatment can completely turn a person’s life around after a traumatic event, giving them the chance to get back to the life they had before the trauma.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health diagnoses. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages of ART is the speed at which it is able to bring relief. Normally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychological treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The therapy works equally as well on bullying victims, combat vets, and others.
Do no let PTSD take control of your life. There is always hope, even when you feel there is none. Contact ART International Training and Research to learn more about the therapy or to find a therapist near you.