National PTSD Awareness Month: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of PTSD

PTSD symptoms and treatment

National PTSD Awareness Month: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of PTSD

June is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness month. According to the National Center for PTSD, “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.”[1] This means that 12 million U.S. adults suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, making it an extremely common mental health condition.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is something that develops when you experience a traumatic event that you cannot cope with. According to research, 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lives.[1] But not everyone who experiences a trauma will develop PTSD symptoms.

If you experience trauma and do not have a network of support or proper coping mechanisms, you are more likely to develop PTSD. With that being said, being aware of what PTSD looks like and how it is treated can help spread awareness about this difficult condition.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that develops after you experience a scary, frightening, or distressing event. These situations are known as traumatic events. Without proper coping mechanisms, the distress of experiencing such an event can lead to the development of PTSD.

While everyone tends to experience a range of reactions after experiencing a trauma, the symptoms usually go away over a short period. If you have PTSD, those symptoms can become frequent and long-lasting. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, “People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”[2]

You might associate PTSD with war veterans, as many individuals who were in the military develop this condition. However, other situations can cause PTSD to develop. Some examples of traumatic experiences that lead to the condition include:

  • Serious accidents
  • Animal attacks
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Abuse, including domestic and child abuse
  • War and conflict
  • Serious health problems
  • Childbirth experiences
  • The death of a loved one
  • Exposure to any form of violence
  • Mass shooting situations

While not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD, 1 out of 3 people who go through severe trauma suffer from this condition.[3]

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the experienced trauma, however, they can begin years afterward as well. For you to be diagnosed with PTSD, you must experience the symptoms for at least a month. While some people recover within 6 months, others suffer from long-term and chronic PTSD that can last for years.

To be diagnosed, you must display at least one symptom from each of the following categories for a month or more.

Re-experiencing Symptoms:

  • Reliving the trauma over and over with physical symptoms like racing heart or excessive sweating (flashbacks)
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

These symptoms can start from your own thoughts and feelings. Additionally, words, objects, smells, events, or situations that remind you of the event can trigger re-experiencing symptoms.

Avoidance Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Staying away from places, people, things, or events that are reminders of the trauma
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma

These symptoms can make it difficult for you to cope in your daily life. For example, if you experienced a trauma out in public, you may begin to avoid public spaces. This can make it difficult for you to maintain a social life, attend work, or leave the house altogether.

Cognition and Mood Symptoms:

  • Trouble remembering key features of a traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world around them
  • Distorted feelings like blame or guilt
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

While it is normal to have these symptoms after a traumatic event, they indicate PTSD if they are experienced for over a month and are not caused by other factors like substance abuse or a medical condition.

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling on edge
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Having angry outbursts

These symptoms are not triggered by anything but are instead constant. Feelings of being easily startled, outbursts of anger, and being on edge can make it difficult for you to complete daily tasks.

How is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treated?

The most effective way to treat PTSD is through therapy. While medications may be given to help symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, or depression, behavioral therapy helps you actually overcome the causes of your PTSD.

Common therapies used include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Stress inoculation training
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Additionally, group counseling is beneficial as it helps you connect with others who have also experienced a traumatic event. This can help you process your trauma in a safe setting with people who understand what you are going through.

Finding Help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you or a loved one experienced a traumatic event and display the symptoms of PTSD, it’s time to seek professional help. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be extremely difficult to go through, especially if you attempt to go through it alone. Thankfully, treatment programs like Florida Recovery Group can provide you with the tools you need to recover.

Contact Florida Recovery Group today to learn more about our mental health treatment program.