With his back to a metal door and people crowding around him, Sebastian’s heart began to race. His breathing quickened, and adrenaline flooded his body. At the next stop, Sebastian did what anyone would do when they are afraid: he got off the subway and ran home. Sebastian Junger explained to Vanity Fair that even though he was home safe after serving in the military, he was suffering from panic attacks whenever he was in a crowded, small space. Sebastian had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He opened up about his struggle because he wanted others to know what PTSD is and that it has treatments. Sebastian worked with a therapist, and together, they worked through the trauma.
“Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.”
― Peter A. Levine
PTSD can occur relatively soon after someone survives a trauma. For others, it can develop months or years after. Whenever it occurs, reaching out for help may be an important step in healing. Skilled therapists can often put people in touch with effective treatments. That is why Thriveworks Chesterfield provides therapy for PTSD. It is a serious mental illness, but many people learn to heal and how to move forward, passed the trauma.
How Does PTSD Develop? Risk Factors
Not everyone who survives a traumatic event will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some will. Others will not. The reasons why are unclear, but several things are clear. Having PTSD has nothing to do with being weak, inadequate, or feeble. PTSD is often a sign that someone has survived and that they are strong. Mental health professionals have identified several risk factors that make PTSD’s development more likely—many of which are outside of an individual’s control. A few things that raise an individual’s risk for developing PTSD include…
- Living through an acute or long-term trauma.
- How an individual’s brain regulates hormones that allow them to respond to danger and threats to their safety.
- Genetic and family history, particularly if a history of anxiety and depression exists.
- What kind of trauma was experienced, particularly the intensity of it.
- Other trauma an individual has experienced throughout life, especially childhood trauma and abuse.
- Working in a profession where one is potentially exposed to trauma: military personnel, police officers, first responders, ER doctors, etcetera.
- Current or previous substance abuse or addiction.
- Anemic support systems, particularly estrangement from family members and friends.
There is no formula for what traumatic experiences can develop into PTSD, and no list could contain every kind of trauma. A few of common traumas include: being threatened, receiving a terminal diagnosis, combat exposure, being bullied, physical assault, sexual violence, experiencing an accident (car crash, fire, et cetera), childhood abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), and more.
Signs and Symptoms for PTSD
“Very minor threats can be experienced, by what the signals in your body tell you, as, ‘You’re in acute danger’”
—Sandra Bloom, former president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
PTSD has four different categories of signs and symptoms:
Rearranging One’s life
At times, PTSD can look like an individual who goes to great lengths to avoid anything and everything remotely associated with the trauma. People with PTSD often rearrange their lives, and in the process, they may cut out the good and the bad. For example, they may
- Avoid meeting up with friends because they want to avoid crowds and feeling trapped.
- Refuse to ride in a vehicle or drive a car.
- Stop watching TV, movies, and the news.
Re-living the Event
PTSD may also look like reliving the trauma again and again. At unforeseen and inopportune times, people with PTSD may be thrown into the emotions and images of the event. Often, reliving the event looks like…
- Having intrusive memories and flashbacks that feel like the event is currently happening.
- Night terrors and nightmares where people wake up in fear and anxiety.
- Triggers—certain sounds, sights, or smells that conjure the trauma and its emotions.
Even when people are safe from the trauma, they may still feel alert to the danger that they experienced. They may have…
- Challenges concentrating on the task at hand.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- A quick startle response to surprises or loud noises.
Changing One’s Feeling and Beliefs
A traumatic event can alter people’s beliefs and feelings about the world and themselves, giving them a number of untrue and unhelpful thought patterns. When people develop PTSD, they may begin to think that…
- No one can be trusted, and every relationship is dangerous.
- The world is always and forever unsafe.
- They have to forget about the trauma to move forward.
Setting Up an Appointment for PTSD at Thriveworks Chesterfield
If you have experienced trauma of any kind, consider reaching out for help. If you recognized any of the symptoms of PTSD, know that you are not alone. The therapists at Thriveworks Chesterfield have worked with many people who are strong. They are survivors, and they have PTSD. We have helped many find the treatment they need to feel safe again.
When you call our offices to schedule an appointment, you may be meeting with a therapist the following day. We accept many forms of insurance, and weekend and evening sessions are offered. We do not keep a waitlist, so we never put our clients on one. Let’s work together. Call today.