What Happens If PTSD Is Left Untreated?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychological disease suffered by millions of people who have been exposed to extreme stress, violence or loss. While cases of PTSD can now be recognized in centuries-old reports of mental health symptoms exhibited by soldiers returning from war, the full ramifications of this disease have only been understood in recent decades. New approaches to treating PTSD are now available.
The Basics of PTSD
The human brain has several defense mechanisms that it uses to cope with overwhelming stress. The intricate and fragile chemical system that manages everything from emotions, laughter, panic, anxiety, optimism, confidence and affection to sleep, pain management and impulse control is rocked by intense experiences such as exposure to or fear of death. Soldiers, first responders and victims of violent crime may experience flashbacks, nightmares, intense anxiety or panic attacks long after the moment of trauma has passed. This is because neural pathways in the brain have been damaged and reformed by that experience. Some of the many symptoms of PTSD include the following:
- Panic attacks
- Intense fear
- Self-destructive thoughts or actions
Long-Term Effects of PTSD
If left untreated suffers of PTSD are likely to experience severe consequences including the following:
- Substance abuse: Many turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to calm their anxiety. This only exacerbates the problem.
- Anger management issues: For some the moments of recurring stress and anxiety result in outbursts of anger or rage. This may result in child or spousal abuse or public violence.
- Loneliness: Because PTSD can make a person very difficult to be around and is often undiagnosed, individuals with the disease may end up isolated and alone.
- Severe depression: Serious depression is always a risk with PTSD. Many sufferers may demonstrate suicidal thoughts or actions while in the midst of a PTSD episode.
Where to Find Help for PTSD
If you are struggling with panic, anxiety, depression, rage or other life-controlling issues following a traumatic incident, you may be dealing with PTSD. If someone you love is being haunted by this crippling disease, you can play a role in their recovery. Call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night and speak to one of our counselors. Call our helpline today to see what treatment is available for your unique situation. There is no shame in seeking help for a serious disease like PTSD, and nothing good happens if PTSD is left untreated.