If there is a mental health disorder that is often misunderstood, it’s PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often mistaken for anxiety, depression, or even something completely different. Simply put, it’s a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Severe anxiety
- Heightened reactions
- Flashbacks to the traumatic experience
- Recurrent, unwanted memories of the traumatic event
PTSD tends to manifest in a variety of different ways. Unfortunately, Hollywood and pop culture tends to portray it in an unrealistic way more often than not. It’s time to talk about the most common myths and facts about PTSD.
Myth #1: It only affects military veterans.
While military members are more likely to have PTSD than others, you might be surprised at the variety of people that experience PTSD. Anyone can have PTSD, even children as young as 12. If you experienced something traumatic that still affects you, you can be diagnosed with PTSD. Experiences that may cause PTSD outside of war and combat may include:
- Natural disaster
- Serious injury
- Sexual violence
- Serious accident
- Physical abuse
Despite PTSD awareness being at an all-time high, this remains a common PTSD myth.
Myth #2: People with PTSD become violent and hallucinate.
One of the most dangerous myths about PTSD is that most people affected by it are “crazy” or potentially dangerous. While this is not only untrue, it’s extremely hurtful and contributes to a stigma that is unfair to those experiencing PTSD.
Most people who have PTSD are perfectly safe to be around and have never considered engaging in violence. Moreover, hallucinations and psychosis are extremely rare among people who suffer from this mental health condition.
Myth #3: PTSD happens immediately after trauma.
As far as myths about PTSD go, this is actually one of the more innocuous. It can take people weeks, months, or even years before they actually develop symptoms of PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. It is important to keep in mind that PTSD presents itself differently in different people.
Myth #4: PTSD only happens to people who are emotionally weak or stunted.
A common thing people with PTSD hear is that they should “get over it, already.” You may have even heard others call them weak for still grieving a loss or having intrusive thoughts. Once again, this is exceptionally damaging to people who have PTSD.
Make no mistake about it: people who have PTSD are not weak, nor can they “just get over it.” PTSD is caused by changes in the brain. This is a medical condition that causes severe symptoms and requires proper treatment.
Myth #5: You probably don’t know anyone who has PTSD.
Not true. A common PTSD myth is that it’s a rare disorder that only affects a small percentage of people who have undergone a traumatic experience. This isn’t true.
70 percent of Americans will have a moment of trauma in their lives. Of that 70 percent, 1 out of every 5 will develop PTSD in their lifetimes. That means 14 percent of all Americans will have PTSD at one point or another.
In other words, it would be strange if you didn’t know someone who has experienced PTSD.
Myth #6: There’s nothing you can do to treat PTSD.
Contrary to popular belief, PTSD is a treatable mental disorder that can have great results with the right help. There are many studies confirming that treating PTSD through professional means of medication and therapy can help people live a happier, healthier, and calmer life.
By eliminating some of the myths and misconceptions about PTSD, we can further normalize this condition. By destigmatizing PTSD, those suffering with this condition will be more likely to reach out for the professional help they need without shame. PTSD is a serious mental health condition that requires the right treatment to move forward. If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD, don’t wait – reach out to a professional for help.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.