Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an often-stigmatized and misunderstood mental health disorder that affects millions of American who have experienced trauma. Cheat Sheet explores ten little-known facts about the disorder.
- Symptoms can appear years after the traumatic event
People who experience trauma can develop PTSD, but a diagnosis can be tricky. Diagnosis requires that a person experiences PTSD symptoms for at least a month. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, and flashbacks. Some people do not experience any symptoms until years later, which can cause them to think something else is wrong. However, brains are unique and everyone processes things differently, so it is quite common for someone to not develop PTSD until long after the traumatic event occurred.
- Women are at higher risk of developing PTSD
More women have PTSD than men. This fact goes against the common stereotype that PTSD only affects combat veterans, so it is especially surprising. According to a review published by the American Psychological Association, sexual trauma may be more likely to cause PTSD than any other trauma.
- You can’t just “get over” PTSD
Too often society treats mental health issues the same as physical health issues and expects people to heal easily and within a certain timeframe. PTSD, like other mental health disorders, are not easy to overcome. There are a variety of treatment methods to help manage symptoms, but finding a therapist who specializes in PTSD can be especially helpful.
- The symptoms can be subtle
Symptoms of PTSD may not always be obvious to the person experiencing them or to those around them. PTSD symptoms can often look like depression, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Therapy might be all that’s needed for treatment
There are a variety of treatment options for PTSD and while medication can be very helpful, it isn’t the only option. Often, just talking to a professional can be the most effective way to work through the trauma and learn how to manage the symptoms.
- There are different types of flashbacks
Each person with PTSD has his or her own trigger that can cause a flashback. The type of flashback can also differ from person to person. Some people experience extremely vivid flashbacks, where they are essentially transported back to the traumatic event, while others don’t experience flashback at all. There is also a middle-ground flashback, where people don’t vividly picture the event, but suddenly feel overwhelmed and anxious and are unsure why.
- Exercise helps manage PTSD
Studies show exercise helps people manage a variety of mental health disorders, including stress and depression. The benefits of exercise also apply to those with PTSD. Some studies even suggest that consistent exercise can have the same positive effects as therapy.
- People have different thresholds for trauma
Not everyone will develop PTSD after a traumatic event. Tis is simply because we are all wired differently and have different thresholds. It is important to remember that we all respond to events in our own way, and it does not make any of us better or worse than anyone else.
- Children can also develop PTSD
Children recognize, understand, and process things far more than adults realize. Anything that can cause an adult trauma can also cause a child trauma. Whether it’s a car crash, sexual assault, or something else, it is entirely possible for a child to develop PTSD. Children are likely to express their trauma in how they play. For instance, their drawings might be darker, or they may pretend to hold a gun if they witnessed a shooting. PTSD in teens, on the other hand, is more likely to manifest the way it does in adults and exhibit itself in angry or aggressive behavior.
- More and more people are developing PTSD
The Department of Defense is diagnosing and treating an increasing number of veterans with PTSD. According to research, about 5% of troops have a PTSD diagnosis.