Did you know that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects an estimated 3.5% of American adults each year? On top of that, approximately 1 in 11 will receive a diagnosis during their lifetime.

This widespread disorder can impact anyone of any age, leading to intense and disturbing thoughts or feelings related to a traumatic experience. However, many sufferers misunderstand PTSD, which keeps them from finding help for this manageable condition.

Our compassionate providers at Compass Mental Health & Wellness in Houston apply their years of military and civilian experience to help patients with PTSD take back control of their lives. In this blog, our team dispels some of the most common myths about post-traumatic stress disorder.

MYTH: Only soldiers get PTSD

One of the biggest misunderstandings surrounding PTSD involves who can get it.

It’s certainly true that veterans have increased risks of developing PTSD. In fact, studies show that anywhere from 11-30% develop PTSD during their lifetime. However, anyone can develop this condition. In fact, 8 million Americans live with PTSD each year, and most of them have never served in the military.

While anyone can develop PTSD, women are more likely to experience the disorder than men, with incidence rates of 1 in 10 (compared to 1 and in 25 men). There are also three ethnic groups disproportionately affected by PTSD, including African-Americans, American Indians, and US Latinos.

MYTH: You need to experience trauma firsthand to have PTSD

PTSD occurs in response to a traumatic event, such as:

  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Child abuse
  • Accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Terrorist acts
  • Combat

However, you can also develop PTSD from witnessing traumatic events instead of experiencing them firsthand. For example, watching someone die could lead to PTSD.

MYTH: PTSD makes you dangerous

Unfortunately, popular movies and TV shows can make it seem like anyone with PTSD is violent or potentially dangerous. However, aggression and psychosis aren’t hallmark symptoms of the condition. Furthermore, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years for PTSD symptoms to occur.

The main signs of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Severe emotional distress, irritability, or low mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance
  • Guilt
  • Isolation and the inability to enjoy favorite hobbies
  • Avoiding anything that has to do with the traumatic event, including people, locations, thoughts, and feelings

PTSD can also lead to negative thoughts about yourself or the world and make it difficult to maintain close relationships.

MYTH: Having PTSD means you’re weak

Like any psychiatric disorder, PTSD is a biological illness with neurological consequences. More simply put: PTSD develops because of how your brain responds to and processes a traumatic event, not because you’re weak.

When you have PTSD, your brain rewires itself when translating the traumatic event. This causes you to have a “fight-or-flight” response to a situation that someone else’s brain may not react to.

These involuntary changes in the brain can also impact your cognitive function, like attention, memory, and problem-solving.

MYTH: You can’t do anything about PTSD

Living with PTSD can leave people feeling misunderstood and alone, especially with so many myths surrounding the condition. But you’re not alone, and there are treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms.

Our team takes a comprehensive approach and offers multiple treatment modalities to help you cope with your symptoms and live a normal life. In most cases, this includes a combination of healthy lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and prescription medications, along with providing skills and tools to help you manage your symptoms if they arise.

We can also help identify other conditions that could be contributing to your PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.

You don’t have to face PTSD alone. To get help, call (281) 836-5452 or book an appointment online with Compass Mental Health & Wellness today.

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