One of the only times I read about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was in the book “Regeneration”, which I began reading with a whole bunch of misconceptions and assumptions. The book mainly focused on soldiers suffering from the trauma of war, which I found to be one of the more common things people think of when PTSD is mentioned.
What Do I Actually Know?
However, I recently found out that PTSD can also stem from non-life threatening events. This made me wonder what else I didn’t know about PTSD and what other misconceptions I may have. So, here are 5 things I learnt about those fighting through PTSD which you may or may not know about.
1. PTSD can have many causes
I had always assumed someone could only develop PTSD from life-threatening events. However, I have since learnt that this is not true! PTSD can also stem from a build up of smaller traumatic events or prolonged trauma. You also may not be the direct victim of the trauma, but you may experience it occuring in front of you. This is common for occupations like firefighters and first responders where they often deal with victims of trauma first-hand.
2. PTSD occurs any time after the traumatic event
I assumed that PTSD always occurs shortly or right after a traumatic incident. But this is not the case. PTSD can occur any time after the incident, meaning you might not even experience it until months or even years later.
3. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD
Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. This is because sexual assault, a traumatic event, is more often experienced by women, contributing to this increased likelihood of developing PTSD.
4. Experiences of PTSD are unique
I always thought that the way people experience PTSD was through flashbacks and reliving their trauma. However, not everyone experiences flashbacks when they have PTSD. Some have intrusive memories without the intensity of a flashback. This taught me that everyone experiences PTSD differently. Hence, we should not discount anyone’s experiences of PTSD as they are all unique.
5. PTSD can be treated
I wasn’t sure if PTSD could be treated. I have since found out that there are indeed treatments for PTSD, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, stress management techniques and medication. However, PTSD cannot be cured. It is important to acknowledge that PTSD is indeed a diagnosable mental health condition, and therefore cannot be discounted as a “weakness”.
This is a short list of things I learnt about PTSD just this week, and it is definitely non-exhaustive! There is so much more to understand and it is important we educate ourselves on these misconceptions in an effort to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues like PTSD.
Let's keep the conversation going
Writing this article, I was not sure what approach to take as I had never encountered or met anyone that had PTSD. Coming from this position of not knowing much about PTSD, I realised that there are many just like me who have yet to learn the facts on such mental health issues. This is important especially as the mental health movement gains traction in Singapore and the world. PTSD is not an issue that is highlighted as often as, for example, depression. Yet, that is why I decided to write this article for PTSD awareness month this June, as a beginning for those like me who have so much more to learn about this community.
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