Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Myths

Despite the plethora of research surrounding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, there are many popular Posttraumatic Stress Disorder myths

It is important to correct the public’s understanding. In addition, there is often stigma attached to PTSD for many people, causing maltreatment and prejudice.

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PTSD affects someone immediately after a traumatic ordeal. If time has passed, someone is no longer at risk for PTSD.

While symptoms for PTSD often arise within the first 3 months after a traumatic event, many times it takes months or even years for symptoms to appear. To make it even more confusing, some people experience symptoms rather continuously for years; but in others, symptoms may come and go through the years, such as in the case of victims of childhood abuse.

The nature of PTSD can make it very difficult for people to recognize PTSD in themselves. So much time may have passed that they do not associate their symptoms with trauma from their past.

In addition, victims of domestic violence often don’t recognize that prolonged experience of abuse from their partners increases their risk for PTSD.

Only military veterans experience PTSD. 

Although Posttraumatic Stress Disorder does indeed affect our war vets; the fact is, PTSD can develop in anyone, including children.

Research tells us that 70% of all Americans within their lifetime will experience some type of major traumatic event. Out of that group, about 20% will develop symptoms of PTSD.

In addition, 10% of all women develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder during their lifetime. It may be surprising to learn that women are two times as likely as men to suffer from PTSD. Women can be more susceptible to violence, including domestic violence, rape, and beatings.

Children who experience abuse, neglect, or molestation are also highly susceptible to PTSD sometime in their lifetime.

Experiencing PTSD is a symptom of mental weakness; people should just “get over” traumatic events of life.

This is a common PTSD myth that can be difficult to combat. While the majority of people who go through a traumatic ordeal do go on to readjust to normal life after a period of time, not everyone can, and it has nothing to do with mental weakness.

Many other factors go into determining whether or not someone goes on to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, including but not limited to:

  • the type of trauma experienced
  • the severity and longevity of the trauma
  • personality traits
  • how the brain releases chemicals to combat stress
  • whether or not the individual experienced childhood trauma
  • whether or not an individual has a strong social support system

Many people misunderstand the complexity of PTSD. By addressing these common Posttraumatic Stress Disorder myths, the PTSD Alliance hopes to correct public understanding of this condition and encourage more people to seek help for PTSD. They also hope that more sufferers of PTSD will receive understanding, encouragement, and care from their support systems.