How Common Is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs when someone reacts negatively to acute or chronic trauma. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about 5% of men and 10% of women will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Women may be more likely to develop PTSD because they are more likely to experience certain types of assault, or they may be more susceptible to other disorders that increase the chance of PTSD.
Common Causes of PTSD
Any psychological trauma may cause PTSD. Trauma is any experience that threatens an individual’s emotional or physical well-being, or other severe emotional stress such as divorce or unemployment. Some examples of events that may cause PTSD are as follows:
- Military combat
- Sexual assault
- Natural disaster
- Physical assault
- Emotional abuse
While these are leading causes of PTSD, anyone who has experienced psychological stress may develop PTSD.
What Increases the Chance of Developing PTSD?
PTSD occurs due to an individual’s reaction to trauma, not the trauma itself. Not everyone who is in a car crash or a natural disaster will develop PTSD, but some individuals are more susceptible than others. Experiencing trauma at a young age increases the chance of PTSD, as does multiple experiences of trauma. Other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression make a person more susceptible to stress and trauma. Repeated or continuous trauma may be more likely to lead to PTSD than a single traumatic experience, and individuals who lack a solid support network are more likely to develop PTSD.
Common Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD may appear immediately after the trauma, or may surface years later as people confront surfacing memories. Symptoms of PTSD may include the following problems:
- Avoiding things, places and people that are reminders of the trauma. A soldier suffering from PTSD may avoid any discussion of war or movies with combat scenes.
- Hyperarousal – those suffering from PTSD may be constantly on edge. They may react more to mild stress.
- Visual flashbacks or nightmares may occur as vivid memories of the trauma. Flashbacks may be triggered by reminders of the trauma.
- Emotional numbness – A person with PTSD may find it difficult to be emotionally close to others, even those he was previously close to.
Experiencing these symptoms for one month or more is a sign of PTSD, especially when social life or career is compromised.
How PTSD May Lead to Addiction
The symptoms of PTSD can leave a person feeling overwhelmed, depressed and anxious. Without proper healing and processing the traumatic event, people may turn to drugs to numb the pain. Drugs may temporarily numb the pain, but they prevent proper healing and even worsen the effects of trauma if drug use develops into addiction. Drug addiction often leads to rebound mood swings that can intensify anxiety, and the stress of addiction may worsen depression.
Learn More about Treatment for PTSD and Addiction
If you suffer from PTSD or addiction, treatment can help. Counseling and medical care can help you deal with anxiety and detox from drugs safely. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to learn more about addiction treatment. Call now, our counselors can answer your questions and help you find treatment that is right for you.