Understanding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sure, many people have heard of PTSD before, but have you ever wondered, “What is PTSD?” As with many mental health disorders, there are misconceptions about PTSD and it is key to be able to identify the signs of this illness in order to receive the proper treatment to lessen the intensity of symptoms and improve overall daily functioning and well-being.
What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and it is a mental health condition that can occur in an individual who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD can be triggered by a variety of terrifying events but is often linked to severe accidents, physical assault, sexual violence, threats with weapons, physical abuse in childhood, or battle exposure.
Symptoms of PTSD are generally categorized into four main groups.
- Intrusive thoughts: Reliving through the event by nightmares, flashbacks, or hallucinations.
- Avoidance: Steering clear of any reminders of the event that could cause distressing thoughts.
- A change in reactions: Outbursts of anger, irritability, feeling jumpy, easily alarmed or startled.
- Changes in mood and cognition: Negative changes in thoughts about oneself, hopelessness, feeling lack of emotion, distanced from others.
Symptoms must last for over a month in order for an individual to be diagnosed with PTSD.
Every person handles traumatic experiences in a different way and not everyone who has been exposed to a terrifying event will develop PTSD. People are unique in the way they react and manage stress or fear. The support and treatment received after the incident, such as professional therapy or help from loved ones, also plays a role in how an individual recovers and affects their ability of developing PTSD.
Individuals with an increased chance of developing PTSD following a terrifying event include those who:
- Have a past involving drug or alcohol abuse
- Have a family history of mental health disorders
- Personally have a history of mental health disorders, like depression or anxiety
- Are experiencing severe or continuing trauma
- Experienced trauma at an early age
- Do not have a close support system
- Work in an environment with increased exposure to distressing events, such as the military
When does PTSD appear?
Contrary to what many may think, signs of PTSD do not always appear right away. In some cases, PTSD can typically develop in the first three months after a traumatic event. However, that timeframe doesn’t apply to everyone and PTSD can even develop years after the incident as well.
PTSD can make life unmanageable and disrupt functioning at work, home, in relationships, and in daily activities. Village Health Partners has two devoted, experienced counselors available in Plano, Texas who are conveniently seeing patients by telehealth visit (video chat). Learn what to expect in a counseling visit at Village Health Partners here and start your journey to improved well-being and gain the tools to better manage the effects of the traumatic event.
Click here to schedule your appointment with a professional counselor today.