Updated: Sep 16
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something that occurs to many people, for a variety of reasons. Though it is mostly associated with soldiers returning from war, it can manifest for any number of reasons. If the trauma is not addressed, people struggling with this condition may experience the symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Though this condition affects millions of Canadians, not many understand how it takes root and how it should be treated. As such, we have created this guide to help you understand whether you or your loved one would benefit from seeking treatment for PTSD.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is the set of mental, emotional, and physical reactions that arise after a person has experienced a traumatic event. This traumatic event could be the horrors witnessed during military service, the death of a loved one, a car accident, and more. People with PTSD often experience nightmares and severe anxiety about the traumatic event.
It is estimated that 70% of adults will experience a traumatic event at least once in their lives. As many as 20% of those who do may develop PTSD.
What Are Some Common Causes of PTSD?
Some of the incidents most commonly observed to cause PTSD include the following:
Physical assault or abuse
Accidents, natural disasters, and other unexpected events
Finding out you have a life-threatening illness
Witnessing the death of a loved one
People who have served in the military, police, EMS services, firefighters, search and rescue professionals, and other related fields are also at higher risk of developing PTSD. Those who experience violent abuse also experience up to 49% greater risk of developing this condition.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Many of the common symptoms of PTSD are the body’s natural reaction to stress. In many cases, these symptoms will resolve and life will get back on track after the traumatic incident. If, however, the symptoms persist after 3 to 5 months, it is time to seek help from a mental health counsellor.
Some of the symptoms of PTSD to watch out for are:
1. Reexperiencing Symptoms.
People with PTSD may uncontrollably relive the incident through flashbacks and nightmares. They may also be susceptible to triggering events (such as sights, sounds, words, and smells) that remind them of the traumatic event.
This condition may cause those who bear it to avoid people or situations that remind them of the event. They may also avoid crowds, public transportation, certain television shows, and so on. They may even avoid other people and professionals to avoid speaking about the event.
People with PTSD may also experience hyperarousal, oversensitivity, and so on. It is not unheard of for people who have this condition to be constantly watching out for danger. They may have trouble sleeping, concentrating, or may easily be startled.
4. Negative changes in beliefs and emotions.
PTSD may change how you feel about others and yourself. It is common for those with this condition to distance themselves from people important in their lives. In some cases, it may even result in self-sabotaging behaviours in some cases.
PTSD can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life, disrupting their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Asking for help from a mental health professional is recommended as this condition may come to define every part of a person’s life and personality. However, it’s worth noting that with trauma, it can also be healthy to allow some of the natural healing to happen and not seek help as soon as possible.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is fairly common, contrary to popular belief. The condition affects millions of people each year, but so few ever get help because they don’t recognize the symptoms or know how to get the treatment they need. We hope, then, that this article has shed some light on your condition if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Contact us now to be connected to a mental health counsellor. We at Ward & Associates Psychological Services offer to counsel clients anywhere in Alberta. We can make a positive difference in your life. Contact us now to have therapy arranged with one of our psychologists who specialize in PTSD.