How Does PTSD Affect Different People in Relation to What Stage of Their Life the Trauma Occurred and All Possible Ways That the Symptoms of PTSD Show Themselves
Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen to a person after experiencing a traumatic event that has caused them to feel fearful, shocked, or helpless. It can have long-term effects, including flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. For a person to receive a diagnosis of PTSD, they must meet criteria that are set out by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear is a part of the body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response, which helps us avoid or respond to potential danger. People may experience a range of reactions after trauma, and most will recover from their symptoms over time. Those who continue to experience symptoms may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes combat veterans as well as people who have experienced or witnessed a physical or sexual assault, abuse, an accident, a disaster, a terror attack, or other serious events. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are no longer in danger. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. In some cases, learning that a relative or close friend experienced trauma can cause PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven or eight of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. Certain aspects of the traumatic event and some biological factors (such as genes) may make some people more likely to develop PTSD.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. But PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD (American Psychiatric Association. 2013). People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch. A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting traumatic event. However, exposure could be indirect rather than first hand. For example, PTSD could occur in an individual learning about the violent death of a close family. It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases (Bichitra Nanda Patra, 2013).
Thus, of particular clinical importance is the vicious cycle that can also begin during “slips”; relapse initially improves sleep, but continued drinking leads to sleep disruption. This cycle of initial reduction of an unpleasant symptom, which only ends up exacerbating the process as a whole, can take place for clients with PTSD as well as for clients with substance use disorders. There are effective cognitive–behavioral therapies and nonaddictive pharmacological interventions for sleep difficulties.
Bichitra Nanda Patra and Siddharth Sarkar. Adjustment Disorder: Current Diagnostic Status. Indian J Psychol Med. 2013 Jan-Mar; 35(1): 4–9.
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Adjustment Disorder.
American Psychiatric Association. 2013. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition. (DSM-5)