Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t affect only those who serve in the military. It’s a condition that can affect anyone who experiences a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, severe accident, terrorist act, rape, or other violent assaults, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
An estimated 8 million Americans over age 18 struggle with PTSD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Living with PTSD can be challenging, and many individuals will turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Fortunately, PTSD treatment is available and can help immensely in the battle to overcome this disorder. Below, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the condition and how it is treated.
PTSD is comprised of four primary symptoms, which are:
Symptoms most commonly occur within a few weeks after the trauma occurs, but in some cases, they may not appear for several months or years.
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), is considered the principal authority when determining psychiatric diagnoses. It lists specific criteria that assist doctors in making a PTSD diagnosis. The following criteria must be present when making a PTSD diagnosis.
Criterion F (required): Symptoms lasting for more than a month.
Criterion G (required): Symptoms that cause functional impairment or distress
Criterion H (required): Symptoms that aren’t caused by substance use, medication, or other illnesses
PTSD can cause significant issues in your life, including at work, relationships, health, and well-being. Unfortunately, up to 80 percent of people with PTSD will have a co-occurring disorder throughout their lives. The mental disorders most commonly associated with PTSD include borderline personality disorder (BPD), major depressive disorder (MDD), substance use disorder (SUD), and anxiety disorders.
Unfortunately, PTSD is a risk factor for substance use disorders, and substance use disorders are a risk factor for PTSD once the trauma has occurred. The two are commonly linked, and using drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain is widespread. An estimated 46 percent of people with PTSD meet the standards for a substance use disorder.
Fortunately, various treatments exist to help an individual cope with their PTSD symptoms. Many PTSD therapies will fall under the umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a psychotherapy treatment designed to change behavior patterns that drive the disorder.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (August 2020) PTSD: National Center for PTSD. from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/related/substance_misuse.asp
Everyday Health (April 2018) Is It PTSD or Something Else? from https://www.everydayhealth.com/ptsd/comorbidities-depression-anxiety-chronic-pain-more/
Mayo Clinic (August 2020) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
ADAA (August 2020) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PDF (PTSD) from https://adaa.org/sites/default/files/ADAA_PTSD.pdf
ADAA (August 2020) PTSD. from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
APA (August 2020). What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd