Over the years, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been called many things (e.g., combat fatigue, shell shock, war strain). However, many people don’t understand what this mental illness is, why some people get it while others don’t, and whom it affects. This has led many people to have unfounded beliefs about it. Here is just a sampling of those myths.
Only military veterans can get PTSD
Although many veterans deal with PTSD symptoms, they aren’t the only ones who develop this mental illness. In fact, 8 million Americans are struggling with it. Many of these people haven’t ever served in the military.
Only men develop PTSD
Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. 1 in 10 women will develop PTSD symptoms in their lifetime as compared to 1 in 25 men. This is because women are more likely to be sexually assaulted or sexually abused as a child. On the other hand, men tend to develop this disorder because of combat, an accident, a natural disaster, or physical assault.
Experiencing trauma is enough to develop PTSD
Unfortunately, traumatic events (e.g., physical assault, sexual assault, child abuse, and combat) happen to 60% of men and 50% of women. However, while most people will experience acute stress (e.g., insomnia, anxiety, depression) afterward, they won’t develop PTSD symptoms that last for years.
People with PTSD are weak
Like any mental illness, PTSD isn’t a character flaw. Instead, it may be a genetic predisposition to the disorder. It can also be that the trauma was horrific or lasted for a long time. In either case, PTSD is considered to be a biological illness with real neurological consequences, which means that you can’t get better simply by trying harder. Therefore professional treatment means you’re embracing the treatment of brain disease.
People with PTSD are dangerous
The mention of PTSD causes many people to think of war veterans who forget that they’re no longer at war and thus violently lash out. However, aggression and psychosis aren’t the hallmark symptoms of PTSD.
The most common PTSD symptoms include:
- Low mood
- Inability to enjoy old hobbies
- Avoiding thoughts, feelings, locations, and people that are associated with the traumatic event
- Difficulty concentrating
- Intrusive thoughts
Some early studies into this illness discovered that those with PTSD are more likely to be violent. However, these studies were disproved once things like substance misuse and co-occurring psychiatric disorders were taken into consideration. Today, researchers believe that less than 8% of those with PTSD are violent.
PTSD can’t be treated
Although mental illness can’t be cured, it can be treated. There are many treatment modalities (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization therapy, prolonged exposure therapy) available to help reduce PTSD symptoms. Medications to help calm your brain are also useful. With the help of these treatment modalities, you can live a normal life.
Filtering through the facts and the myths is possible
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this mental illness, so those who are diagnosed with it frequently feel misunderstood. Therefore many of them won’t share their diagnosis with their friends or their loved ones because they fear they’d be seen as unstable or dangerous. Many also resist seeking treatment because they believe the myth that says if you’re strong enough mentally, you can overcome it.
These myths build a stigma that prevents patients from getting help. Therefore they aren’t only wrong, but they’re also dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD symptoms or any other mental illness, we invite you to contact us at TMS Advantage in Clearwater, FL. Call to schedule an appointment today.
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