Across the nation, around 7.7 million people struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Lifetime prevalence is about 7.8 percent among Americans, per the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
First recognized in the 1980s, PTSD has become more recognized in recent years, mostly due to increased mental health care and awareness among military members and veterans. The disorder is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a trauma- or stress-related disorder. Most often, it is brought on by exposure to a traumatic event, but in some cases, sufferers may incur symptoms of PTSD merely through the retelling of such an event from someone else.
What does PTSD look like?
The United States Department of Veteran Affairs reports that around 11 to 20 percent of military members and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD every year. In addition, 12 percent of those who served in Desert Storm and about 30 percent of those who served in Vietnam will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
Plenty of civilians suffer from PTSD, too. The symptoms of PTSD include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling on edge or easily rattled and jumpy
- Trouble remembering the trauma experienced
- Overwhelming guilt or despair
- Feeling uninterested in things you once enjoyed
- Avoiding things that bring up unpleasant memories or feelings about the trauma
- Emotional numbness
Who is at risk?
There are no definitive risk factors that make you more likely to develop PTSD. Research notes that people who have difficulty processing their feelings may be more likely to develop the disorder, but no evidence currently exists to confirm this. It’s possible that brain chemistry and physical makeup are contributors, but little research exists in this realm thus far.
Certain events repeatedly serve as common experiences among PTSD victims, including:
- Being the victim or witness of an act of terrorism
- Being a victim of physical or mental abuse
- Death of a loved one
- Being the victim of rape or assault
- Enduring a natural disaster
PTSD often co-occurs alongside other mental health disorders. In one study of people with PTSD, 88 percent of males and 79 percent of females also had another mental health disorder, per Military.com. When multiple mental health issues are in play, it’s imperative that treatment deals with all disorders present rather than attempting to treat only one issue.
Asking for help
The good news is you aren’t alone in your quest for treatment. PTSD can be effectively treated with comprehensive care that can also address all co-occurring mental health issues. Certain medications can help with the symptoms of PTSD, but intensive therapy is always part of the treatment plan for the disorder.
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of PTSD, or you’ve seen these symptoms in someone you care about, help is available. Call us now for more information on inclusive treatment programs that can help.