Typically when we think of people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka PTSD), we think of someone who’s served overseas or endured some type of natural disaster. But that is not always the case. PTSD can emerge among people who were abused, harassed at the workplace or forced to encounter any type of difficult situation. In fact, according to new research from Psychology Today, up to 70 percent of U.S. citizens are dealing with this condition right now.
The data, which came from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), revealed some other interesting facts as well. Apparently, PTSD is more than two times higher among women than men. It also is associated with increased suicide rates. Most surprising of all, the estimated costs resulting from trauma total over $40 billion each year.
So how does this study (and the psychological community at large) define PTSD? Basically if you were exposed to any type of traumatic event, short-lived or long lasting, you are candidate for this disorder. It can rear its head immediately following the incident or years later, after being buried in the subconscious. Psychology Today writer Grant Hilary Brenner M.D. listed the most obvious warning signs.
“What PTSD does, is make the victim relive and re-experience the trauma,” he wrote. “Symptoms can include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, negative changes in emotions and thinking. There are also dissociative symptoms, such as detachment or emotional numbing; avoidance of reminders and thoughts of trauma, which may severely limit one’s choices or keep one from leaving the home. Hyperarousal symptoms can occur as well, which include anxiety, edginess, fear rage and generally being on high alert at all time.”
Dr. Brenner’s article delves into some interesting scientific findings as well; particularly the ways that PTSD impacts the brain. NIMH’s study compared people who have dealt with trauma against those who have not. What they discovered was that certain areas of the brain appeared to behave differently among those suffering with the disorder. Regions like the hippocampus (which deals with memory), the amygdala (the emotional center) and the cingulate cortex (thought processing) were called out within the PTSD group.
Thankfully, this type of research is becoming more common and the conversations are beginning to reach more people (thanks to sites like Psychology Today). We are firm believers in seeking out professional help for any and all traumas you may have experienced. The most important thing is to not bury away difficult feelings. Address them and work on releasing the pain.