By The BroglieBox Team
10 min read
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person and can vary in intensity over time.
Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
When to see a doctor
If you have disturbing or suicidal thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:
- Stressful experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma you’ve gone through in your life
- Inherited mental health risks, such as a family history of anxiety and depression
- Inherited features of your personality — often called your temperament
- The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:
- Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
- Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
- Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
- Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Having blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression
Having PTSD may also 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
After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what’s happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt — all are common reactions to trauma. However, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.
Getting timely help and support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. It may mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community. Support from others also may help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.
BroglieBox, LLC is not a licensed therapy service. BroglieBox, LLC is not intended to replace professional treatment.
At this time, we can recommend the below resources:
Talk Space or Better Help (Online/Virtual Therapy)
The Buddy Project (For loneliness and peer support)
Crisis Text Line (For Depression and Self Harm)
Suicide Prevention Hotline (For Self Harm and Suicide Prevention)
Light Therapy (Mayo Clinic)