By Ms. Archana Narwani, Psychology
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. With proper management, therapy and support, this disorder can be successfully treated.
Researchers usually believe that post-traumatic stress disorder is not caused by any one single factor. Rather, a variety of predispositions and risk factors, work together that leads to the development of PTSD following a traumatic event. The most commonly cited causes are:
- Genetic Factors: Anxiety disorders are hereditary and PTSD also tends to run in families. People having first-degree relatives struggling with any anxiety disorder are at a higher risk of developing the disorder themselves. While it is not a definitive cause for PTSD, exposure to a traumatic event does make a person more vulnerable to developing the disorder.
- Environmental Causes: Those having a history of trauma or stress are more susceptible to PTSD than those who do not have a similar history. Children growing up in families marred by addiction problems are more predisposed to such a condition.
- Brain Structures: Certain areas of the brain that are believed to regulate fear and emotions are varied in people diagnosed with this condition as compared to them who have not developed PTSD after a traumatic event.
- Psychological Factors: People struggling with certain types of mental disorders, notably depression and anxiety are at a greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is caused due to exposure to a traumatic incident or frightening event such as sexual assault, natural disaster, war, accidents or the threat of death/death or any grave illness to one’s self or a dear one. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a lifelong consequence of any such extreme traumatic event that affects a person’s ability to deal with such an incident.
Most of the times, people having been exposed to trauma develop feelings of shock, fear, anger, anxiety and guilt.
These reactions are completely normal in regard to an unnatural event and eventually fade over time. A person diagnosed with PTSD develops unusual strong feelings post such an event that they hinder the person from leading a meaningful (normal) life. Sadly, the symptoms of PTSD don’t fade with time and these feelings amplify till the person is so overwhelmed that they are unable to function.
This disorder can occur at any age. It has even been observed during the first year of an individual’s life. Symptoms generally begin to appear by the first three months following the traumatic incident but it can also start showing up months or years later.
Certain individuals who have been exposed to a disturbing experience might develop symptoms of PTSD directly after experiencing such an event. This is known as acute stress disorder. People having acute stress disorder experience a varying amalgamation and duration of the symptoms, but most of them usually recover within three months of the causative event.
Some people with an acute stress disorder experience prolonged periods of symptoms that may be triggered by memories of the traumatic incident.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can disrupt your whole life: your job, your relationships, your health and your enjoyment of everyday activities.
Having PTSD also may increase your risk of other mental health problems, such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Issues with drugs or alcohol use
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and actions