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The common misconceptions of PTSD
by TeenHelp May 3rd 2015, 11:46 AM

The common misconceptions of PTSD
By Cassie (Calico.)

Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD is a serious mental health condition that develops from experiencing or witnessing a horrific or life threatening event. PTSD develops from trauma, whereas other mental illnesses do not and that is what separates PTSD from other illnesses. It can affect anyone of any sex, race, age, or background. Like other illnesses, PTSD has a negative stigma that often prevents sufferers from getting the help that they deserve. This stigma is likely caused by lack of education regarding common misconceptions.

Only war veterans can develop PTSD. It only affects people of a certain age.
While war veterans are susceptible to PTSD, war is not the only cause. In fact, survivors of physical or sexual crimes (especially during childhood) are the most likely to develop PTSD [source]. Other traumatic events such as a sudden loss, a car accident, or a natural disaster can also cause PTSD. Police, firefighters, and hospital personnel are also at risk of being affected. Children and teenagers can suffer from PTSD as well. It was found that 5% of teenagers have had the disorder at one time in their life [source]. Girls are more likely than boys to be affected, but it can and does occur in all different types of people.

Everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

Every person is different, and each person who goes through a traumatic event is affected differently. It is estimated that approximately 70% of Americans will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime, and only 20% of those Americans will develop PTSD [source].

PTSD will develop immediately after a traumatic event.

There is almost always a time lapse between the traumatic event and the development of PTSD. It can take as little as a few months or as many as several years before someone starts to show symptoms of PTSD.

Those suffering from PTSD are always angry or violent.
Although the hyper-arousal symptoms include feeling angry, on edge, or hyper vigilant, angry or violent outbursts are not directly linked to PTSD. They are instead closely linked to the history of the sufferer. Those who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse,as well as angry outbursts before the trauma, have an increased chance of becoming violent, for instance. Not everyone affected with PTSD has a history with these things, however. Therefore, violent outbursts do not affect everyone who has PTSD.

People with PTSD are just weak; they are not victims.

People with PTSD have been through a trauma that was beyond their control; they did not choose to experience it. PTSD is a very real and sometimes debilitating disorder. It is a common human response from experiencing or witnessing a horrific or life-threatening trauma. It is caused by a series of chemical reactions in the brain. The brains of someone who is not affected and someone who is affected will look vastly different. The brain of someone who has PTSD has noticeable changes in the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the medial frontal cortex. The amygdala can be found in the temporal lobes of the brain and it helps to form and control emotional responses as well as form emotional memories. In people with PTSD, the amygdala is overactive. Other aspects of PTSD such as flashbacks and nightmares are due to a possible malfunction in the hippocampus and the medial frontal cortex.

Only a single treatment is needed.
Treatment varies according to each individual, but it is highly unlikely that someone will need just a single treatment. Methods such as different therapies and medications, and self-help techniques are often used together to help alleviate the symptoms. It's important to note that symptoms of PTSD can go dormant for periods of time and then reappear due to a trigger. In these cases, adjustments or additional treatment may be needed.

Recovery from PTSD is not possible.

PTSD is a lifelong illness and the term "recovery" is subjective. However, with appropriate help, people can learn coping skills to help them live with it instead of suffer from it. People with PTSD can most definitely thrive in day-to-day life and function in the real world. PTSD does not define the people living with it.
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