Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been around for a long time even though the name for it has not. The name PTSD was officially given to the diagnosis in 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association outlined the disorder in its Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders. Since then there has been many misconceptions about the illness.
Not Only Soldiers
PTSD is not something which only veterans of war face. It is understandable that people would be confused since PTSD became the official title for struggles faced by combat soldiers for many years. Yet PTSD can and does affect all kinds of people exposed to significant trauma. In fact, seven percent of the general population will experience PTSD at one time or another during their lives.
People other than soldiers may encounter trauma in the form of child or domestic abuse, witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime or living through a dangerous event such as a natural disaster or serious automobile accident. The truth is that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women in America go through such extreme experiences. Of those about 14 percent (four percent of men and 10 percent of women) will go on to develop PTSD.
Not Only Immediate
Normally a person who has lived through such an intense experience will be affected within a short time span. This could come in the form of bad dreams, irrational or hard-to-control anger, a loss of interest, feelings of isolation or alienation or hyper-vigilance. But not everyone reacts quickly. Symptoms are sometimes delayed for weeks, months or even years following a trauma. Not only that, but the symptoms may come and go depending upon life circumstances. When there is a lot of stress or there is some reminder of the trauma – symptoms long dormant may awaken.
The most important thing to know about PTSD is that it is treatable. This usually involves counseling, behavior therapy and possibly medication. PTSD affects people who have never been to war – and more of us than we realize. The good news is that it’s never too late to do something about it.
Contact Family Guidance today if you or someone you know is showing signs of unmanageable stress. Encourage them to get treatment. Help is available and PTSD is treatable.