War, unimaginable tragedy, and natural disasters, known as big T trauma, bubble up on the internet in a 24-hour news cycle these days. Trauma seems to be all around us, everywhere. And for some, PTSD is a new, unwanted, reality.
For those of us who have experienced trauma, or enduring it with a loved one, or wondering what it means, it’s vital we know what we’re dealing with. Let’s examine some of the facts about PTSD.
The Facts about PTSD
This anxiety disorder often gets saddled with poor interpretation, erroneous information, and a dangerous stigma that can get in the way of understanding and compassion. Let’s take some time to separate the myths from the facts.
Myth: PTSD is not a big deal.
Fact: Unaddressed PTSD can be emotionally, physically, and relationally devastating.
If you have PTSD you are suffering from something real and pervasive. Though the symptoms may seem overwhelming and terrifying, understand that the symptoms are not a play for attention but as real as life itself. Involuntary responses, intrusive thoughts, and attempts to manage emotional pain becomes increasingly difficult and most times does not dissipate with time. The ability to successfully focus on family, job, and present life may become extremely challenging. Coping with PTSD is extremely demanding and thus the risk of substance abuse, depression, and suicide increases without professional help and ongoing support.
Myth: Got trauma? Then you’ve got PTSD
Fact: Not so. The vast majority of trauma survivors show no signs of PTSD a year after a traumatic event.
People are different. Trauma affects us differently. For some people, the most terrifying events take hold and won’t let go. Yet, for others, traumatic experiences affect them only in short-term ways. They see their distress fading naturally over a relatively short amount of time. Still, others find that trauma inspires growth and a new sense of purpose.
Myth: Mentally strong people don’t get PTSD
Fact: PTSD is an equal opportunity disorder.
If you’re human, you’re susceptible to trauma. If you’re susceptible to trauma, you’re susceptible to PTSD.
The truth is, some people get PTSD and some don’t, even if they experience the same event. But it has nothing to do with mental or physical strength.
There are, however, certain people that are more likely to experience PTSD. For example,
- Women are diagnosed with PTSD at double the rate of men. However, this may simply be attributed to the fact that women are more likely to admit a mental health problem and seek professional help.
- People who endure sexual assault, war, or other types of interpersonal trauma are more likely to exhibit signs of PTSD. Their tendency to experience the disorder is significantly higher than that of people who survive traumatic accidents or acts of God.
- People without social support have difficulty rebounding from trauma.
MYTH: PTSD occurs right after trauma occurs.
Fact: While symptoms of PTSD generally materialize within three months, sometimes it takes months, even years.
The facts about PTSD can get lost amid the perception that PTSD just shows up the day after a tragic event. In truth, sometimes symptoms wax and wane, sometimes dormant symptoms erupt when a person encounters a second trauma or triggering situation. Often, people simply don’t realize past trauma is the root of their current struggles and don’t link PTSD to the pain they are experiencing.
Myth: It’s too late to do anything about old traumas.
Fact. It’s never too early or too late to treat PTSD.
It’s never too late to get help! In fact, old trauma and the correlating PTSD symptoms are the perfect places to start your healing. Treatment is not impeded by time. Therapies like Rapid Resolution Therapy actually thrive in this circumstance. By way of a process called memory reconsolidation, the brain is able to change unwanted emotional responses and PTSD symptoms are noticeably reduced or eliminated. The mind is cleared and the emotions that accompanied PTSD subside.
Take a step toward healing…
PTSD follows the most difficult period of your life. It can muddle emotions and confuse your thinking regarding healing and solutions. However, the facts about PTSD are clear to a therapist. Choose a better life- reach out. It’s okay to seek out the clarity and the support of a knowledgeable ally. You are not alone and needn’t shoulder shame or suffering one more day.