Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there are still many misconceptions surrounding PTSD that can contribute to stigma and shame, and ultimately prevent people from getting the help that they need. Below, we’ll explore common myths associated with PTSD and expose the #TruthsAboutTrauma.
Myth #1: Only veterans get PTSD.
One of the most persistent myths is that PTSD only affects military personnel or combat veterans. While it is true that service members can develop PTSD due to traumatic experiences during their service, not all veterans or military members have or will develop PTSD. Only about 29% of those who served in OIF or OEF will have PTSD in their lifetime.
It’s also important to recognize that traumas that lead to PTSD can take many forms such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Millions of people worldwide experience PTSD, and this includes adults, children, veterans, and civilians alike.
Myth #2: PTSD always develops immediately after a traumatic event.
Fact #2: Not all trauma leads to PTSD. In fact, the majority of people who experience trauma do not go on to develop PTSD.
Almost everybody who experiences significant trauma is going to feel stress immediately following that trauma. PTSD is when you continue to experience that distress or that experience gets worse over time.
For those who develop PTSD, symptoms often start within 3 months of the traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms do not emerge until years later. This delayed onset may be triggered by reminders of the trauma or other life stressors.
Myth #3: PTSD is a sign of weakness
Fact #3: PTSD is NOT a weakness. It is a natural response to a traumatic event. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age.
Myth #4: People with PTSD are violent or dangerous
Fact #4: People with PTSD are not dangerous. Although PTSD is associated with an increased risk of violence, the majority of veterans and non-veterans with PTSD have never engaged in violence.
Myth #5: PTSD is untreatable and lasts a lifetime.
Fact #5: PTSD is treatable. There are multiple research-supported, short-term therapy options that have been proven effective for treating PTSD, including Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). PE helps you process traumatic events by gradual repeated exposure to trauma-related memories, emotions, and situations, while CPT targets ways of thinking that might keep you “stuck” in your PTSD. Many people who engage in treatment recover fully from PTSD.
Cohen Veterans Network specializes in treating veterans, service members, and military families with PTSD. If you’re interested in learning more about PTSD treatment options, find a Cohen Clinic near you.