In America, about 26.2% of all adults age 18 and over have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. These include mood disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia, as well as personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Approximately 9.5% of the American adult population suffers from a mood disorder and while 40%-60% of the population has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, only an average of 7.7 million people in this age group has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is stress-related reactions, usually after a person experiences a traumatic experience, that do not go away over time and they often disrupt your life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can result from various terrifying ordeals that involve physical harm or the threat of physical harm such as war, physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, plane crashes, natural disasters, etc. While it is not clear why some individuals develop PTSD and some don’t, factors such as the length of the trauma, if you were injured, how intense the trauma was, if you lost a loved one, etc. are taken into consideration when figuring out the cause of the disorder. Not everyone who has PTSD has experienced a life-threating event, but it is more likely that anyone who constantly lives through dangerous experiences will develop it. It is also more likely for individuals who have a history of mental illness, getting injured or dealing with added stress after the event, or not receiving/asking for emotional support after the trauma have a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Scientists are also focusing on a person’s genes as a probable cause for PTSD as well as areas of the brain that are involved with fear and stress.
Symptoms can occur directly after a terrifying experience or several months later and often come and go throughout the years. There are three categories of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Re-experiencing symptoms include nightmares and flashbacks of you reliving the trauma which can include a racing heart or sweating. Avoidance symptoms include feelings of guilt, depression, worry, and emotional numbness, losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed, and generally avoiding any reminders of the experience. Hyperarousal symptoms include being “jittery,” having problems sleeping or concentrating on simple tasks, feeling tense, and having angry outbursts due to stress. Children with post-traumatic stress disorder can suffer from the above symptoms or other symptoms depending on their age. Common examples include bedwetting, being unable to talk, acting out, and clinginess. People with PTSD not only suffer from symptoms directly caused by the disorder but other problems which may include alcohol and drug dependency, unemployment, relationship troubles such as divorce, depression, etc.
In order to be diagnosed with...