PTSD & Trauma

A Brief overview of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a result of accumulated lifetime stress or a singular triggering event such as experiencing or witnessing something that shocks the moral consciousness. Only a small portion of people who are exposed to a traumatic event develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Approximately 33% of service members who return from combat suffer from at least one of these conditions, and 5% meet the criteria for all three diagnoses.” (Ohye et al., 2014) That’s 3 of 10 veterans returning home.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder. It has three different categories of Symptoms: Intrusive, Avoidance and Hyperarousal.

Trauma and Addiction

Many people who have substance use disorders have experienced trauma as children or adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance abuse is known to predispose people to higher rates of traumas, such as dangerous situations and accidents, while under the influence and as a result of the lifestyle associated with substance abuse.

A person presenting with both trauma and substance abuse issues can have a variety of other difficult life problems that commonly accompany these disorders, such as other psychological symptoms or mental disorders, poverty, homelessness, increased risk of HIV and other infections, and lack of social support. Many individuals who seek treatment for substance use disorders have histories of one or more traumas.

More than half of women seeking substance abuse treatment report one or more lifetime traumas and a significant number of clients in inpatient treatment also have subclinical traumatic stress symptoms or posttraumatic stress disorder.

What is Trauma?

Trauma can emerge as a result of an event, series of events or set of circumstances deemed to be emotionally harmful, physically harmful or threatening. Trauma has lasting adverse effects on a person’s functioning and physical, social, emotional or spiritual well-being, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration definition. SAMHSA informs that trauma can affect people of every race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, psychosocial background, and geographic region. A traumatic experience can be a single event, a series of events, and/or a chronic condition (e.g., childhood neglect, domestic violence). Traumas can affect individuals, families, groups, communities, specific cultures and generations.

Common Causes of Trauma

A traumatic experience can be a single event, a series of events, and/or a chronic condition (e.g., childhood neglect, domestic violence, exposure to violence). According to the The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, individuals may experience the traumatic event directly, witness an event, feel threat­ened, or hear about an event that affects someone they know. Events may be human-made, such as a mechanical error that causes a disaster, war, terrorism, sexual abuse, or violence, or they can be the products of nature (e.g., flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes). Trauma can occur at any age or developmental stage, and often, events that occur outside expected life stages are perceived as traumatic (e.g., a child dying before a parent, cancer as a teen, personal illness, job loss before retirement).

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

The National Institute of Mental Health determines that PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. The NMH indicates that nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.