June is PTSD awareness month and the mention of PTSD often leaves an image of a male veteran who was subject to the horror of near death experiences during war. And while the rates of PTSD are unfortunately high among those who serve our country and we want to help, we also want to bring awareness to some little known facts about PTSD that might surprise you.
- You can get PTSD from a non-life threatening event or from smaller traumas that add up over time. I’ve counseled spouses after their partners cheat, men after a few minor car accidents, and adolescents after enduring bullying, and they all have PTSD.
- Two people can go through the same trauma and one can develop PTSD and the other might not. This doesn’t have to do with strength vs. weakness, but multiple factors that we are still trying to understand using neuroscience. PTSD seems to be a complex interplay of traumatic events plus our internal reactions to them. By the way, I’m not talking about your conscious, willful reactions. You can’t choose if you develop PTSD. But you can choose whether you heal from it or not.
- Women are 2x more likely to develop PTSD than men. Again, it’s not about weakness. Women endure more trauma and may have genetic factors that make them more susceptible as well, just like males are more likely to develop Autism than females due to some gender differences. So there’s no judgment here, just a comment on differences.
- Medications aren’t typically recommended to treat PTSD. That’s right… The top treatments for PTSD are EMDR therapy and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The World Health Organization even warns against using some medications to treat PTSD. The good news is that several studies show that after a single trauma that causes PTSD, EMDR can cure it in about 5 sessions. (One caveat is to get treatment as soon as possible after trauma… therapists will tell you the longer you wait, the longer treatment will probably take and there may be other issues to tackle, such as substance abuse, which can occur as a result of trying to numb the pain of the trauma).
- When someone has PTSD, everyone around them can be negatively affected. We have networks in our brains that respond to stress in others. If one person in a family has untreated PTSD, this can shake the entire foundation of the family as partners and children witness anxiety, rage, startle, and fight/flight/freeze (f3) behaviors. Fortunately, with the right treatment and strategies for lowering stress in real time, such as using BLAST technology in TouchPoints™, there is hope on the horizon.
If someone you love has PTSD, please share this. Together we can make a world of difference.