Everyone experiences some type of fear and stress when going through a traumatic event. These feelings are normal and allow people to protect themselves from violent threats. However, for some individuals, the physical and emotional feelings cause a disruption in the brain. This disruption affects their ability to function normally, and they may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a condition that causes a person to experience a traumatic event over and over again. The replaying of the event can be so real, it feels like it just happened. In order for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, they must have some of the following symptoms for at least one month.
- Re-experiencing symptoms. The person has flashbacks or nightmares from the traumatic event.
- Avoidance symptoms. The individual stays away from people and social situations, particularly those that remind them of the trauma.
- Reactivity symptoms. A victim with PTSD has emotional outbursts and trouble sleeping. They may be hyper-aware of their surroundings when they do go out.
- Mood symptoms. The person suffers from mood imbalances like depression, guilt and anxiety.
Why Does PTSD Only Affect Some People?
We know that some groups of people are more likely to have PTSD than others, such as victims of sexual assault and war veterans. But, not every person who has been sexually assaulted has PTSD, and not every war veteran has violent flashbacks. So why are only some people affected by this condition?
Some research suggests that PTSD occurs when chemicals in the brain are disrupted by an extreme stress response. As an example, high levels of adrenaline may cause memories from the event to remain powerful and real to the person. Also, trauma at a younger age may cause the brain to be hyperactive, resulting in more extreme reactions to stress.
Here are some of the risk factors that may make one person more likely than another to develop PTSD:
- Previous history or family history of mental illness
- History of substance abuse
- Suffering an injury during the attack
- Seeing someone injured or killed
- Seeing a dead body
- Additional stress on top of the event, such as losing a loved one
PTSD is Not Fully Understood
At this time, we still have a lot to learn about PTSD. The brain is incredibly complex and it’s difficult to know how a person will respond to trauma until it’s too late. What we do know is that drugs and alcohol, mental illness and PTSD are strongly linked.
PTSD can be successfully treated using a combination of medical treatment and counseling. People can learn how to control their symptoms and function normally in society. For those battling substance abuse as well, a dual diagnosis rehab in California is the best choice.
Awakenings Treatment Center is a trauma treatment center that offers holistic treatment for PTSD, substance abuse and other mental health conditions. Treatment takes place in our safe, supportive outpatient rehab facility. Contact us today to start your healing from past traumas.