PTSD Awareness Day


June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. Though we have already briefly covered posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in our post about mental health, we wanted to delve further into the risk and preventative factors of PTSD and what strategies can be implemented to treat and prevent cases of PTSD.

PTSD is a mental health disorder that individuals may develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. While PTSD is typically associated with war veterans and soldiers, any situation that triggers fear or helplessness can potentially lead to PTSD.

Events that may cause PTSD include, but are not limited to: physical violence, sexual assault, accidents such as car wrecks and fires, natural disasters, and abuse of any form. While these examples are all dangerous or life threatening, the triggering event may not be physically harmful at all – such as the sudden death of a loved one.

Risk factors of PTSD

While it is not yet understood why certain people experience PTSD and others do not, there are some factors that increase the risk of diagnosis after a traumatic event.

Social and health factors that are considered risk factors of PTSD include:

    • Lacking social and moral support
    • History of mental health issues
    • Past experience of abuse
    • Poor physical health
    • Brain structure & response to stress

Signs and symptoms of PTSD

  • Intrusion symptoms: Nightmares; intensive flashbacks; fearful thoughts
  • Avoidance symptoms: Refusing to talk about the event; avoiding situations that remind them of the traumatic event
  • Reactivity symptoms: Difficulty sleeping; irritability and outbursts; hypersensitivity; anxiety
  • Symptoms that affect mood and thinking: Inability to remember the event; feeling guilty, detached, and numb; reduced interest in life; difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms: Weakened immune system; exhaustion; aches and pains; sweating; shaking; nausea; dizziness

In young children, symptoms also include: Bedwetting; inability to speak; acting the event out; and being close/clingy with an adult.

Treatments and complications

Treatment for PTSD typically involves a combination of therapy or counseling, medication, and social support from family and friends. Acknowledging the stigma of both PTSD and mental health issues in society will also indirectly help those with PTSD in the long run. 

PTSD can lead to new or worsening complications throughout life. All of the aspects of the victim’s life can be affected. Other problems that may arise include difficulty with work and relationships, physical problems due to weaker immune systems, and possible changes in brain structure.

This blog was written by STM Learning’s editorial staff for educational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific medical or legal advice. For expert information on the discussed subjects, please refer to STM Learning’s publications


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