Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person goes through a life-threatening event, such as military combat, a natural disaster, or physical or sexual assault.Here's what you need to know about the causes, symptoms and treatments for PTSD.
1. Exposure to trauma
Trauma is any event that threatens a person's physical, emotional, mental or social well-being. Traumatic events can be either mild or severe, brief or long lasting. They can be manmade (for example, terrorist attacks) or natural disasters (for example, earthquakes). Events like these cause feelings of intense fear, helplessness and horror.
If you experienced a traumatic event in your past and still have painful memories of it now — even though it happened years ago — you may have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they're not in danger of being harmed again.
People who've been exposed to acts of violence are at greater risk of developing PTSD than those who haven't experienced trauma firsthand. In fact, studies suggest that nearly half of all people exposed to a traumatic event develop PTSD compared to about 8 percent of people who haven't been exposed to trauma.
2. Toxicity of the brain
Toxicity of the brain is one of the reasons why people develop PTSD. When someone experiences trauma or suffers from a mental illness, it can have a toxic effect on their brain chemistry. This leads to changes in how their brain functions as well as changes in their behavior and emotions.
This toxicity can lead to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. It also makes it more likely that people will develop other illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia because of these changes in their brain chemistry.
3. Genetic predisposition and personality traits
Genetic predisposition. People with close family members who have had PTSD are more likely to develop the disorder themselves. This is because genes may play a role in causing the illness. For example, if one twin has PTSD and the other does not, it's likely that there is a genetic cause for the disorder.
Some people may be more susceptible to developing PTSD because they have certain personality traits that make them more sensitive in general. For example, they may be more inclined to feel anxious or depressed than others are — which may make them more likely to develop PTSD after experiencing trauma.
4. Brain injury or illness
Brain injury or illness is a potential reason why people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A brain injury can change how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can also cause problems with memory, concentration, or other aspects of thinking. Someone who has a brain injury or illness may have trouble remembering things that happened before the injury or illness occurred. This can cause flashbacks.
Flashbacks are memories that come back suddenly and vividly. They are like watching a video of an event that happened in the past. People who have flashbacks might feel like they are actually experiencing the event again. They may feel scared or upset by these memories and have trouble sleeping because they wake up feeling afraid.
People who have PTSD may also have symptoms of anxiety disorders such as panic attacks and phobias. People with PTSD often have trouble sleeping well because they wake up feeling afraid even when there isn't anything to be afraid of anymore
This is called hyperarousal syndrome and it's common among people who have experienced trauma such as war veterans or victims of violent crimes; it causes them to feel like they're still in danger even though they aren't actually in any real danger at all (because their brains haven't healed yet).
5. Lack of social support and connection with others (i.e., loneliness)
People who are isolated from family or friends are more likely to develop PTSD. This can happen because they were in an area where there was no one to help them or they were unable to reach anyone after the traumatic event occurred. Those who had someone on their side were less likely to develop the disorder than those who did not have anyone close by who could help them recover from their experience.
Not having someone nearby who can provide emotional support can make it difficult for someone who has been through a stressful event such as combat, rape, or abuse as well as other types of trauma such as car accidents and natural disasters.
6. History of mental illness, substance abuse, or other conditions that affect the mind and body (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders)
History of mental illnesses include depression and anxiety disorders. These disorders are characterized by long-term changes in mood, thought, and behavior. People with these disorders may feel sad or hopeless for weeks or months, have trouble concentrating or remembering things, and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and as a result can develop PTSD. They may also be irritable or tense for no apparent reason.
Substance abuse is a pattern of using alcohol or drugs in ways that cause problems in your life or the lives of others. It’s often called an addiction when it causes problems with your relationships, health, work, school, or other important areas of life. People who have addictions usually can’t stop using drugs or drinking even when they want to stop because they feel they need it to deal with stressors in their lives like trauma exposure.
7. Neglectful parenting during childhood (from birth to age 12 years)
Neglectful parenting can take many forms, but it is most often characterized by an absence of nurturing and affectionate interaction with children. Some parents may be physically present for their children, but they are emotionally unavailable due to depression or other mental health issues.
Other parents may be physically absent from the home for long periods of time due to work obligations or addiction issues. These factors can lead to high levels of anxiety and depression in children who feel abandoned by their caregivers.
Children who experience neglectful parenting often feel as though they have no one who cares about them or no one who will protect them from harm. This sense of isolation and helplessness can lead to behavioral problems such as substance abuse or inappropriate sexual activity as a way to cope with stressors in life.
8. Childhood physical or sexual abuse (between birth and 18 years old)
Childhood physical or sexual abuse is a major contributor to the development of PTSD. In fact, one study found that childhood trauma is the most significant factor in predicting the development of PTSD.
If you were abused as a child, you may be more likely to develop PTSD later in life. People who were abused as children are more likely to experience repeated flashbacks and nightmares, and they often feel emotionally numb and disconnected from their bodies.
They can also have trouble sleeping and concentrating on daily tasks, which can make it difficult for them to function normally at work or school.
9. Exposure to violence and war-related traumas as an adult soldier or civilian (combat exposure)
Exposure to violence is one variable that can trigger a person's development of PTSD. The National Center for PTSD says that “the likelihood of developing PTSD increases if the person has been exposed to more than one traumatic event.
For example, if someone were in an accident, then saw their best friend die in another accident, they would have been exposed to two events: the car crash and the death of their friend. They would be at higher risk of developing PTSD because they were exposed to two separate traumatic events.
To conclude, it's about time that people begin to understand that PTSD is an issue for everyone, not just those in the military. There are countless reasons as to why a person can develop PTSD, and there are ways to manage symptoms and seek help. If people come to understand this and stop stigmatizing those who suffer from it, perhaps more of them will be inclined to get help.
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