According to National Health Service, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.” The symptoms are usually severe enough to have a significant negative impact on one’s day to day life. About 1 in 3 people who experiences severe trauma develop the disorder.
The length of time PTSD lasts for varies on the severity of the trauma and one’s treatment plan. However, it is not uncommon for it to last a lifetime.
It is not clear why one person develops it over the other, but research shows:
- “The symptoms of PTSD are the result of an instinctive mechanism intended to help you survive further traumatic experiences.”
- “People with PTSD have abnormal levels of stress hormones.”
- “In people with PTSD, parts of the brain involved in emotional processing appear different in brain scans.”
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is similar to PTSD. But whereas PTSD can last a lifetime, ASD only lasts for a short amount of time. ASD “lasts at least three days and can persist for up to one month.” Like PTSD, “Experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with one or more traumatic events can cause ASD. The events create intense fear, horror, or helplessness.” About 6 to 33 percent of people who experience trauma develop ASD.
“Many people with ASD are later diagnosed with PTSD. A diagnosis of PTSD is made if your symptoms persist for more than a month and cause a significant amount of stress and difficulty functioning.”
ptsd is Not Just for Veterans or Abuse Victims
PTSD or ASD is caused by seeing or going through trauma, such as war combat, abuse, terrorist attacks. But despite what the general public thinks, the disorders are not just for veterans or abuse survivors.
It can be caused by anything that causes us great distress, or enough to be considered traumatic.
In a blog on the Huffington Post titled PTSD: It’s Not Just for Veterans, the author writes, “Not everyone experiences and perceives an event the same way, so there is no concrete list of events that can cause traumatic responses.”
I have been to the hospital three times for suicide ideation. Two out of those three times, I struggled so much afterwards because the experiences were traumatic for me. Looking back, I can say I probably struggled with ASD. At the same time, I remember being confused. Why was I traumatized if this is something I wanted to happen?
Could suicidal ideation/attempts cause a traumatic reaction? I asked my counselor a couple years why I was so traumatized over something like suicide. She explained that thoughts like the ones I was having are very confusing and scary to the person experiencing them because there’s normally a part of them, no matter how little, that wants to live and make it through tough times.
Those who are suicidal usually don’t want to die; they just want their suffering to end. Being in that state of hopelessness while trying so hard to keep myself alive after I was released, was too hard to put into words. And it was scary! One wrong move, one wrong decision on my part and it would’ve ended my life. It WAS a near death experience, even if I was the one who would’ve committed the act.
Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog post on more about this experience.