Research shows that individuals who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have experienced severe trauma at some point in their lives. Although many believe that PTSD is a mental health condition that affects only those who have been to war, the trauma could come in the form of a car accident or anything that would prompt a harrowing reaction.
People with PTSD often have recurring, distressing, and upsetting memories of the trauma that are hard to stop. Symptoms can include flashbacks, night sweats, insomnia, and panic attacks. People who have PTSD may isolate themselves from friends and family.
Other disorders and mental health conditions can appear along with PTSD, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse. Many who experience PTSD also may struggle with suicidal ideation and may attempt to take their life.
While PTSD is not necessarily preventable since trauma is generally beyond our control, people can be equipped to cope with the trauma afterward. It is vital to seek mental health treatment in the form of therapy after someone experiences a traumatic event, said Tina Kempin Reuter, MA, PhD, associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) College of Arts and Sciences and director of the UAB Institute for Human Rights.
“Significant barriers can prevent many individuals living with PTSD and other trauma-related disorders from seeking the treatment they need,” Reuter said. “These barriers include lack of access or knowledge about mental health resources, lack of insurance to pay mental health providers, physical disability or other disability preventing individuals to access care, discrimination, and the stigma often associated with seeing a counselor.”
Reuter says that in recent years the global mental health community has worked to address these and other barriers by promoting remote counseling through communicating with therapists and mental health professionals over the phone or computer.
“Programs like BetterHelp [www.betterhelp.com/on line-therapy] can assist people living with PTSD to find and utilize the counseling they need,” Reuter said. “We hope that, as more individuals living with PTSD take advantage of these services, they are able to live fuller and healthier lives.”
If you believe that you are experiencing PTSD, seek help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline is 800-662-HELP (4357).
This article was adapted from information provided by UAB.