Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after a traumatic event. Around 8% of Americans experience some form of PTSD. That number increases up to 20% for military veterans and individuals who experience a violent assault. Those who suffer from PTSD are at high risk for substance abuse, unemployment, and depression. PTSD can also cause physical symptoms like headaches, high blood pressure, fatigue, and chronic pain. If symptoms are not managed, PTSD can interfere with personal relationships, social life, work, and overall health. PTSD can also be difficult to recognize because symptoms may start off subtle or not begin until years after a traumatizing event occurs. In honor of PTSD awareness month, we’ve written this blog to help you understand the different ways that PTSD can manifest, and how to support someone you care about.

Causes and Symptoms of PTSD  

Symptoms of PTSD have been documented for centuries—but for many years, it was often referred to as “battle fatigue” or “shell shock”, due to being common among soldiers who returned from combat. Those terms were replaced once it became better understood that PTSD could develop in anyone who experienced a traumatic event or highly stressful situation. Usually, such events or situations will include an intense fear for one’s life or safety—such as sexual assault, violent assault, car accidents, or natural disasters. Symptoms of PTSD can manifest anywhere from immediately to years later, and may include all or some of the following:

Some people who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD will avoid seeking an official diagnosis or treatment because of a stigma that falsely associates PTSD as a sign of weakness. If you have a loved one who you believe is struggling with PTSD, you can support them by helping them understand that PTSD is a serious condition and can be difficult to manage alone. Encourage them to accept the help and support from others, including getting professional help with managing symptoms. You can also help them by:

1. Being aware of the signs of depression
2. Helping your loved one to manage stress in healthy ways
3. Understanding ways you can help during a panic attack

An unfortunate reality in many marginalized communities and among veterans is being unable to seek a diagnosis and proper treatments due to the inaccessibility of mental health care. You can help by supporting local organizations that work to make mental health more accessible to these groups. Contact your local chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, or reach out to local support groups for more information on ways you can volunteer and donate.

Getting Professional Help

PTSD is a complex disorder that can manifest differently for each person. With a proper diagnosis, there are many treatment options and symptom management techniques that are available. The prognosis for those diagnosed with PTSD is great when treatments include a combination of healthy coping techniques and supporting mental health through therapy. If you or someone you know in the California or Nevada area is struggling with symptoms of PTSD, reach out to us by phone/text at (833) 624-5400, or by filling out our online contact form. Our licensed mental health practitioners have specific training in PTSD management and can help with diagnosing and managing symptoms.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.