Understanding PTSD: Risk Factors, When to Seek Help, and More

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In our previous post, I discussed symptoms of PTSD. If you think you may be experiencing PTSD knowing when to seek help is critical. The thought of working through PTSD can be overwhelming and scary. Keeping reading for causes, risk factors, and when to seek help for PTSD.

Causes

You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you go through, see or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation.

Doctors aren’t sure why some people get PTSD. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:

  • Stressful experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma you’ve gone through in your life
  • Inherited mental health risks, such as a family history of anxiety and depression
  • Inherited features of your personality — often called your temperament
  • The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress

The model used to understand the interaction between these factors is the biopsychosocial model.

In broad terms the biopsychosocial model is an interdisciplinary model that looks at the interconnection between biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors. The model is utilized to examine how these aspects play a role in topics ranging from health and disease models to human development. Though it is not a perfect model it does provide a conceptual framework that considers the varied forces of biology, psychology,

Study source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6543570/

When to see a doctor or other healthcare professional:

  • If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
  • If you have suicidal thoughts
  • If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

Risk factors

People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:

  • Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
  • Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
  • Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
  • Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
  • Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use
  • Lacking a good support system of family and friends
  • Having blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression

Kinds of traumatic events

The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:

  • Automotive Accident
  • Sexual assault
  • Combat exposure
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Physical assault
  • Being threatened with a weapon
  • An accident

Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events.

Complications

Post-traumatic stress disorder can disrupt your whole life ― your job, your relationships, your health and your enjoyment of everyday activities.

Having PTSD may also increase your risk of other mental health problems, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Issues with drugs or alcohol use
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Prevention:

After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what’s happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt — all are common reactions to trauma. While many individuals experience trauma, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

Getting help and support as soon as possible can prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. It may mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community. An effective support system may also help prevent individuals from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.

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