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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real, but don’t be discouraged by mixed-up ideas about PTSD from seeking help from others.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) isn’t just a condition soldiers suffer from. It affects people from all walks of life. Though it’s becoming more familiar in our culture, there are several myths concerning the causes and effective treatments of PTSD.

[Related: The Science of Anxiety]

Myth #1: Only Wartime Trauma Causes PTSD

PTSD is often associated with military veterans. While veterans do experience the disorder at a higher percentage than others, it is important to remember that trauma is not unique to the battlefield. In the United States, for example, 7-8% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. While there is a correlation between PTSD and the frequency and severity of traumatic experience(s), any situation in which a person feels powerless, out of control, or unsafe can lead to the disorder.

Myth #2: The Only Aftermath of Trauma is PTSD

Humans are resilient, but there are times when a traumatic experience cannot be immediately overcome. PTSD is one of several possible, prolonged responses to trauma. Other examples include depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.  Individuals may try to escape or numb their emotions through substance abuse or addiction. Others may look for comfort in controlling what they eat, which can lead to an eating disorder.

[Related: What Is Clinical Depression?]

Myth #3: PTSD Is a Terminal Diagnosis with a Poor Prognosis

If left untreated, PTSD can wreak havoc on a person. Anger and irritability can damage relationships and make job retention difficult. The good news is that there are scientifically-supported treatments available. With the help of a mental health professional, an individual can define, face, and overcome their traumatic experience and its effects.

[Related: How to Manage Your Anger Issues]

Next Steps

If you have suffered any kind of traumatic experience, one way to begin addressing the possible side-effects is to seek out a qualified mental health professional. For friends and family of those suffering from PTSD, sharing a caring, listening ear and not rejecting the sufferer is huge.

No matter what, remember that even in the midst of PTSD, there is hope.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Have you ever known someone who suffered from PTSD, or have you ever experienced it yourself? Share a story if you are comfortable.
  3. What are some appropriate ways to respond to a friend who approaches us seeking guidance in dealing with PTSD or other side-effects of trauma?
  4. How can you seek help for PTSD or other trauma-related issues?
  5. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
David Johnson, PhD, practices at the Ogden Center for Change. Written content for this topic by John Meade.