PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This mental health disorder develops in response to a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance.
Myths about PTSD are everywhere. For example, some people believe it’s a disorder that only affect combat veterans. While these individuals can and do develop PTSD, other do as well. Perhaps the most damaging myths about PTSD is that nothing can be done once it develops. We want everyone to know that recovery from PTSD is possible with compassionate, research-based mental health care.
Who Can Develop PTSD?
PTSD can affect anyone in any demographic after they experience a traumatic event. However, it does not impact every single person who goes through trauma. In all, about 7.7 million adult in the United States live with the disorder. While children can also develop PTSD, the numbers are less clear.
While PTSD can affect anyone, some people are more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic even than others. The following risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing PTSD:
- Trauma during childhood
- Additional stress that the trauma causes, such as homelessness
- Getting physically hurt
- Witnessing someone else getting seriously injured or dying
- A lack of support after the trauma
- Feeling hopeless or helpless while the trauma occurs
- A history of substance abuse
The best thing someone can do to decrease the risk of developing PTSD is to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Types of PTSD and Their Symptoms
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
- Intrusive Memories
- Changes in Emotional and Physical Reactions
- Changes in Thinking and Mood
Someone with PTSD can experience symptoms from just one of the categories or many.
Treatment Options for PTSD
While nothing can take away the pain that trauma causes, there is hope for treating PTSD. Comprehensive mental health care can reduce PTSD symptoms, improve mood, and allow patients to lead full lives.
PTSD is primarily treated through medication, therapy, or a combination of these treatments. It’s important to know that what works for one person may not be right for another. That’s why it’s vital to get a personalized care plan and attend follow-up appointments.
Medication for PTSD
If a qualified health provider and the patient agree, prescription medication may be part of a PTSD treatment plan. Depending on the exact symptoms a person experiences, they may need prescriptions such as:
- Sertaline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Anti-anxiety medications
Furthermore, people with PTSD often have other mental health disorders. Psychiatrists and advanced nurse practitioners may treat these conditions with medications.
Therapy for PTSD
Therapy helps people with PTSD healthily process their trauma and learn coping mechanisms. There are many different types of individual therapy for PTSD, including:
- Narrative Exposure
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Prolonged Exposure
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Some people with PTSD also find help by joining group therapy.