Written By: Sam Rouse, LPCA
When most people think about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the first thought is the military. While PTSD is prevalent among veterans and members of the military, it is not a diagnosis reserved only for them. PTSD can affect anyone that has experienced a trauma.
So, what qualifies as a trauma? Trauma is when a person experiences an extremely distressing event such as a car wreck, abuse, witnessing violence, etc. When a person experiences a trauma it does not mean that they will have PTSD. Often times, experiencing a trauma can be resolved and the person will have no mental health issues afterward. Sometimes a person will develop anxiety or depression as a result of the trauma. Other times, a person might develop PTSD. According to American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is defined as “a person must have experienced or witnessed an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others, and which involved fear, helplessness, or horror.” (Psychology Today)
There are specific things that must be present in order to get a diagnosis of PTSD. In order to fit this diagnosis, a person must have experienced a trauma and have a number of other symptoms. These include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of reminders, memory difficulty, self-blame, being easily startled, have an inability to concentrate, difficulty sleeping, and more. PTSD is not something you can diagnose yourself with. It needs to be diagnosed by a skilled professional such as a licensed counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
PTSD requires exceptional care and can be treated by a combination of mental health counseling, medical care, and a good support system. Families are usually the primary support system and need to be part of the treatment so that they can be fully educated about what to expect and how to help. If you or someone you love is experiencing something that could be PTSD, please contact a local mental health agency to get a correct diagnosis and follow through with treatment recommendations that might include weekly therapy and medication management.
To get a full list of the criteria required to meet the diagnosis of PTSD, please visit https://www.verywellmind.com/ptsd-in-the-dsm-5-2797324
To get more information about supporting someone with PTSD, please visit https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-to-help-someone-with-posttraumatic-stress-ptsd-0725165