Will Trauma Always Result in PTSD?

Will Trauma Always Result in PTSD?

Table of Contents

PTSD is relatively common if you had a traumatic experience, but not every trauma will result in PTSD symptoms. You may not experience any symptoms after a traumatic experience, while others might not experience symptoms of PTSD until later. This article will cover how common PTSD is and who is the most at risk.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a condition that develops after exposure to a traumatic event or experience. You can develop PTSD from directly experiencing trauma, witnessing someone experience trauma, and even hearing that a loved one has experienced a traumatic event.

You may also develop PTSD from repeated exposure to negative details of a traumatic event. This experience can be common for therapists learning about abuse that happened to a child or first responders investigating a traumatic situation.

What Do PTSD Symptoms Look Like?

It is possible to develop PTSD from an adverse experience and not realize it. An event might not have seemed traumatic at the time, though it might have made you feel uneasy or scared in the moment. Either way, you did your best to move on. Months or years later, the event may still bother you.

Common symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks, reoccurring memories, or nightmares related to the event
  • Thoughts or feelings that induce stress because they remind you of the adverse experience
  • Avoiding feelings or places that remind you of the event
  • Being easily startled or constantly on guard
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feelings of irritability, anger, or aggression
  • Participating in risky or reckless behavior
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once important to you
  • Feelings of social isolation
  • Negative feelings about oneself or the world
  • Difficulty experiencing happiness or satisfaction

These symptoms are usually present for at least a month or more. PTSD is considered a diagnosis when symptoms cause issues in your life. These symptoms can affect your ability to form healthy relationships, eat and sleep well, and develop trust.

PTSD often overlaps with anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder. Most mental health providers and treatment centers screen for PTSD in patients and train mental healthcare professionals to be trauma-informed.

How Common Is PTSD?

According to the National Center for PTSD, about eight in every one hundred people develop PTSD. While you may get exposed to trauma and heal from it over time, those who continue to experience symptoms long after the event can get diagnosed with PTSD if they fit the criteria.

Research is still being conducted regarding who is most likely to develop PTSD. It has been shown that women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with PTSD, and there might be a genetic connection relating to who can get PTSD.

Besides Biology, Why Else Would Someone Get PTSD?

There are many different risk factors at play when it comes to PTSD. It can depend on the event, whether you sought support, and how you viewed or interpreted your part in the event. For example, if you experienced trauma, like a car accident, you are more likely to experience PTSD if you regret the actions that took you there. You might experience PTSD symptoms if you hold onto shame about the event or wish you had done something differently.

Not everyone is at risk. It is normal to feel horrible after experiencing trauma. How you are able to heal from the trauma, as well as your mental health history, can determine whether or not you develop PTSD. If you are still feeling symptoms associated with the event months after it occurred, then there is a chance that you have PTSD and should talk to a mental healthcare professional.

What Should You Do if You Have PTSD?

If the memories of a traumatic event are still affecting your quality of life long after it happened, then it might be a good idea to seek help from a trauma-informed mental health professional. There are many different ways you can safely process trauma and begin healing. Specific therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization, and Reprocessing therapy can help you reprocess and work with your feelings associated with your trauma. In between sessions, it might help to learn more about your trauma triggers and how to cope when things become too much.

While working through your trauma, it is essential to take care of yourself. Prioritize self-care, especially when reprocessing difficult experiences. Do not attempt to process trauma by yourself because you could experience re-traumatization. Additionally, try to work through your trauma when you are at a more stable point in your life to avoid causing unnecessary emotional distress.

PTSD is relatively common in those with a substance use disorder. Most mental healthcare practitioners and treatment centers operate with the assumption that a person has underlying PTSD. However, not every person who experiences trauma will develop PTSD symptoms. Whether they do or not can depend on a variety of risk factors. If you experience something traumatic, seek support from loved ones and take the time to process complicated feelings associated with the event. It is normal to be negatively affected by a traumatic experience. If symptoms related to the event continue to occur three months or more after the event and occur for at least a month, you might have developed PTSD. Located in scenic Colorado, our staff at Jaywalker Lodge can help. Many of those with PTSD use substances to cope. Our trauma-informed staff can create an effective treatment plan that considers all of your symptoms. For more information, call us at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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