What is PTSD?

Who's at Risk?

Myths

Symptoms

Diagnosis

Treatment

Getting Help

Myths about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a complex disorder that often is misunderstood. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, but many people do.

MYTH: PTSD only affects war veterans.

FACT: Although PTSD does affect war veterans, PTSD can affect anyone. Almost 70 percent of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those people, up to 20 percent will go on to develop PTSD. An estimated one out of 10 women will develop PTSD at sometime in their lives.

Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk of developing PTSD. Women are about twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, perhaps because women are more likely to experience trauma that involves these types of interpersonal violence, including rape and severe beatings. Victims of domestic violence and childhood abuse also are at tremendous risk for PTSD.

 

MYTH: People should be able to move on with their lives after a traumatic event. Those who can’t cope are weak.

FACT: Many people who experience an extremely traumatic event go through an adjustment period following the experience. Most of these people are able to return to leading a normal life. However, the stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including mental, emotional and physical well-being. Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, a traumatic event changes their views about themselves and the world around them. This may lead to the development of PTSD.

 

MYTH: People suffer from PTSD right after they experience a traumatic event.

FACT: PTSD symptoms usually develop within the first three months after trauma but may not appear until months or years have passed. These symptoms may continue for years following the trauma or, in some cases, symptoms may subside and reoccur later in life, which often is the case with victims of childhood abuse.

Some people don't recognize that they have PTSD because they may not associate their current symptoms with past trauma. In domestic violence situations, the victim may not realize that their prolonged, constant exposure to abuse puts them at risk.

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The PTSD Alliance is supported by Beachway Therapy Center, a Florida based addiction treatment center.