Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental disorder that manifests in certain individuals after they experience a life-threatening, scary, or dangerous event. Here are 5 things you need to know about this illness.
1. You don't need to be a soldier to develop PTSD.
Soldiers tend to come to most people's minds first in regards to PTSD. While it is true that many soldiers develop the disorder, it is important to remember that anyone can go through a traumatic event or events, and therefore anyone may develop the condition. Women are more likely to develop PTSD due to sexual assault or domestic violence, while men who go through dangerous accidents and have been in combat experience higher rates of PTSD than those who do not. The DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, does not specify the source of the trauma in its diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Any type of trauma fits.
2. PTSD is more than flashbacks.
Flashbacks are one of the paramount signs of PTSD, but the illness encompasses many more symptoms than just that. People who develop PTSD may also experience nightmares, being easily startled, feeling constantly on edge, having irritable outbursts, have difficulty falling asleep, an inability to remember details about the traumatic event, a negative view of oneself and the world as a whole, feelings of guilt or shame, and anhedonia (a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable).
3. PTSD does not make people violent.
In the media and film, people with PTSD are often portrayed as very mentally unstable, impulsive, and prone to lashing out physically at others. As stated in number 2, PTSD has a wide range of symptoms, and aggressive behavior is not one of them.
4. PTSD is often comorbid with addiction.
Roughly 50 to 66 percent of people with PTSD also deal with addiction. Due to the seemingly chronic levels of high stress, a person with PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism or as a way to temporarily escape feeling the difficult emotions that accompany this disorder.
5. Children can get PTSD, but the symptoms may differ from adults.
The child's mind is not immune to the deleterious impact of trauma and the devastating symptoms of PTSD that may follow. In children, PTSD may manifest in wetting the bed, exhibiting clingy behavior with a parent or family member, reenacting the trauma in a play setting, or showing an inability or unwillingness to speak.