Originally, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was thought to be something only military service members and veterans faced. Now, we understand that this stress disorder can happen to anyone, especially those who experience an intense, often life-threatening, event. PTSD differs from acute stress disorder in that the experiences are more long-term and will usually disturb daily life. An estimated 7.7 million Americans have suffered or are suffering from PTSD and another 8% of the population will eventually develop the disorder. The symptoms can appear as soon as the episode ends or even years later. PTSD is a multidimensional disorder with many different causes and outcomes. Research has begun to explore the idea of multiple different subcategories that require different treatment methods. As we recover from the pandemic, some individuals may experience abnormal stress response.
Normal Stress: Typically, normal stress response can be effectively managed with the support of loved ones, peers and individual or group therapy sessions. Individuals suffering from normal stress response should see a recovery within a few weeks.
Acute Stress: Acute stress disorder, while not the same as PTSD, can occur in people who have been exposed to what is or what feels like a life-threatening event. Natural disasters, loss of loved ones, loss of a job or risk of death are all stressors that can trigger acute stress disorder. If left untreated, acute stress disorder may actually develop into PTSD. Acute stress disorder can be treated through individual and group therapy.
Uncomplicated PTSD is linked to one major traumatic event, versus multiple events, and is the easiest form of PTSD to treat. Symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD include: nightmares, flashbacks to the event or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, anxiety, irritability, mood changes, depression and changes in relationships. Uncomplicated PTSD can be treated through therapy, medication or a combination of both.
What can you do?
- Let someone know what you are feeling
- Let your doctor know
- Talk therapy helps-learn coping skills