Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with military experiences and violent crimes. However anyone can get PTSD, and there are a variety of stressful, traumatic or upsetting situations that can contribute to its development.
The duration and severity of trauma influence the likelihood of developing PTSD, and those experiencing repeated and ongoing trauma, such as long-term abuse, or direct and severe trauma are more likely to develop the disorder.
Living through natural disasters, violent crimes or accidents may lead to the development of PTSD, but individuals do not have to be the victims or perpetrators of violence to experience symptoms of this disorder. The National Institutes of Health shares that PTSD can occur at any age and, “You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt” or die (“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”).
Getting a PTSD diagnosis may be difficult for those who do have military experience. They may not be aware that they are at risk, or they may not recognize the symptoms. PTSD symptoms vary based on individual experiences, but they may include the following:
- More than one month of bad dreams
- More than one month of feeling worried, guilty, alone or on edge
- Experiencing flashbacks to a traumatic event or experience
- Uncontrollable negative thoughts
- Avoiding places or people connected to a traumatic memory
- Changes in sleeping patterns
Recognizing symptoms and learning more about the disorder is the first step in getting help. While denial of or lack of information about PTSD causes and symptoms is a primary reason individuals do not seek help, non-military causes of PTSD create other stumbling blocks towards recovery.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that in the past individuals, “had been denied insurance coverage for PTSD because of a former stipulation that required combat experience to qualify for the benefit” (“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder”). However medical professionals and many medical associations now recognize the variety of causes and experiences that can lead to the development of PTSD.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with PTSD or other mental health issues related to stress and trauma, do not wait to get help. PTSD will not get better on its own, and professional help is needed to put an end to symptoms and keep the disorder from progressing. Untreated PTSD has a profound and negative effect on the lives of those with the disorder and those who love and care for them.