Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. The person with PTSD may have experienced or witnessed it. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and emotional distress. The person may also have uncontrollable thoughts about the event. It is often associated with military personnel but is not limited solely to them. Here are the common myths about post-traumatic stress disorder.
Myth 1: PTSD only affects military veterans
PTSD can impact anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. It is often associated with the military because of the violent nature of war and other activities they engage in. People who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, an accident, sexual assault, or even the death of a loved one are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Myth 2: PTSD affect someone immediately after an event
It is often assumed that if post-traumatic stress disorder is to set in, it will happen immediately after the traumatic event. This is not the case. Symptoms often arise within the first three months but can also take months or years to appear.
Myth 3: Anyone who experiences trauma will experience PTSD
Traumatic events are common but people developing post-traumatic stress disorder are far less common. Statistics focused on the US say that close to 8% of Americans will experience it at some point during their lifetime. Some people experience traumatic events yet do not develop symptoms of post-traumatic disorder. A person may also seek help early enough before their stress after a terrible event turns into PTSD. Research shows that early intervention is key.
Myth 4: People with PTSD are weak
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition, not a character flaw. It is a human response to an uncommon experience. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing PTSD while others may have experienced particularly horrific acts or events. Others may also have been exposed to the situation for long or dealt with multiple traumatic events in their life, not just the one. Some people have a present support system while others may just be on their own. A whole host of factors determine the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Myth 5: PTSD will just go away with time
Along with the belief that people with post-traumatic stress disorder are weak, is the belief that strong people can deal with it on their own and it will eventually just disappear on its own. The majority of PTSD cases will not resolve on their own. Seeking and needing help is not a form of weakness. With the right type of professional assistance, people with it may be able to return to normal functioning sooner than if they just waited it out.
Myth 6: People with PTSD are violent, dangerous, or crazy
The media is responsible for many of the misconceptions about post-traumatic stress disorder, including this one. People respond to trauma differently. Some people withdraw, others become fearful and jumpy, and yes, some may act violently. People with PTSD who become violent are in the minority and often have a substance abuse disorder as well. Substance abuse amplifies the feelings of fear that can occur with post-traumatic stress disorder leading to more extreme reactions.
Myth 7: Everyone with PTSD experiences the same symptoms
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder present very differently depending on the person and the type of trauma experienced. PTSD can look very different from one person to the next.
Myth 8: PTSD cannot be treated
Some traumas can feel huge and insurmountable with survivors unable to believe they will ever be better. Mental illnesses cannot be cured but they can be treated and managed. Researchers and clinicians continue to uncover new methods to reduce the symptoms associated with PTSD. Some methods include cognitive behavioural therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization therapy (EMDR). It is completely possible to live a normal life while coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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