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The Truth About PTSD

by BetterSleep
May 6 • 4 min read

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a condition that results from different kinds of traumas in life, and interferes with our ability to live our best everyday lives. On top of that, men and women can experience different PTSD symptoms—ones that could last years, especially if left untreated. Since May is Mental Health Month, it’s even more important to understand what conditions like PTSD are, and what exactly they entail.

Though it’s a very well-known anxiety disorder, it’s also an incredibly misunderstood one. If you think a friend or loved one is trauma dumping on you, it could very well be the result of PTSD—but there are many more layers to it than just that. Keep reading to better understand the truth about PTSD.

How Many People Does PTSD Impact?

Of every 100 people, 7 to 8 are expected to develop PTSD at some point in their life. In some cases, it can take months or even years to see any symptoms appear. Most of the time, people experience symptoms within 3 months of the event(s) that triggered your development of PTSD. Even if most people eventually experience some form of trauma, PTSD is a more extreme, chronic version of it. In any case, symptoms must be present for at least a month before a diagnosis can be made.

PTSD is also known to affect a bigger proportion of women than men, and for someone to be diagnosed with it, it must be serious enough to impede their personal life. Some forms of treatment recommended for PTSD include talk therapy, prescription medication, exposure therapy (as strange as that may seem), mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, cognitive restructuring, and acupuncture. However, keep in mind that not all treatments work for everyone, so some may work better for you than others!

Effects of PTSD on Daily Life, Including Sleep.

Sufferers of PTSD are known to experience depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, avoiding possible reminders of their trauma, disassociation, nightmares, and trauma flashbacks. Repressing our memories of the traumatic event is another common symptom, as is actively avoiding bringing it up in conversations with others. These are both forms of avoidance that those with PTSD frequently experience. Another common symptom of PTSD is insomnia (from hyperarousal), as sleep is one of multiple basic everyday tasks that the disorder can interfere with.

Remember that PTSD is different from an acute stress disorder, it’s an ongoing condition manifesting as the long-term result of trauma. Conversely, acute stress disorder represents the short-term feelings one experiences right after their traumatic incidents. PTSD is also not a disorder that’s strictly for those who have actually experienced traumatic events: those who witness these events as a third party (e.g. a doctor, psychologist, or first responder) can also be affected with PTSD.

Debunking PTSD Myths and Tropes.

There remains a number of widely-held misconceptions about what exactly PTSD is. First, a patient being evaluated for the disorder is judged based on a variety of criteria regarding symptoms. This means they typically experience four symptoms in particular: avoiding reminders of their traumatic event, experiencing flashbacks, cognitive dysfunction, and hyperarousal. Secondly, PTSD is not a sign of weakness in a person, nor does it indicate that that person is being overly sensitive.

Though PTSD is a term that originated from World War I (known initially as shell shock), it’s not strictly limited to experiencing war as a military veteran. People who have come close to dying, been in accidents or natural disasters, have been victims of violence (physical, sexual and otherwise), and have witnessed disturbing events as bystanders can all develop PTSD. Children—particularly those who’ve experienced abuse, witnessed domestic violence, seen a loved one die, and been neglected.—are also susceptible to this disorder.

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