I know you've heard a fair amount about PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder lately: there's an alarming number of men and women returning from war with symptoms that often go unnoticed until something disturbing happens and the disorder is often blamed as one of the key reasons many veterans end up homeless and/or addicted to drugs or alcohol. But what exactly is PTSD and how does one get it?
Let's start with the "trauma" portion of the disorder. PTSD is defined by the Mayo clinic as: "A mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event." What's significant here is the phrase "terrifying event". The experience of combat is no doubt terrifying, but others things can be terrifying, too. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, car accidents, workplace accidents, even verbal abuse - these can all be traumatic events. What's even more notable is that these events do not have to happen to you directly in order to cause symptoms of PTSD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM 5) notes that if you witness a traumatic event, learn about terrible trauma that happened to someone close to you, or if you are exposed to the details of trauma over and over again as part of your job, you can develop PTSD. In short, anyone can get PTSD.Read More