Trauma and PTSD Facts
What is trauma?
Trauma is an individual’s response to witnessing or experiencing a frightening event, such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, or other crime or abuse. Symptoms of trauma vary greatly by person. A person who has experienced trauma may develop depression, substance use disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Types of trauma
- Natural disaster
- Sexual assault
- Military combat
- Terrorist attacks
- Life-threatening illness, injury, or accidents
- Secondary trauma, such as first-responder witness of the aftermath of abuse, accidents, death
What is PTSD?
After experiencing trauma, a person may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which includes feeling depressed and anxious for an extended period of time, as well as experiencing recurrent, frightening dreams or intense emotions about the event; feeling disconnected from others; and avoidance of places, people or memories that relate to the event.
The symptoms of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder are different for each individual based on the specific experience, but can include:
- Scanning for danger in safe situations
- Experiencing irritability, anger or aggression
- Withdrawn behavior
- Recurrent nightmares or flashbacks of the event, feeling as though the life-threatening situation is present again
- Typically avoiding places, people, activities or objects that are reminders of the event
- Difficulty sleeping
- Tending not to go out in public
- Feeling depressed and alone
- Engaging in risky behaviors such as substance use, gambling, driving fast, etc.
What causes PTSD and who’s at risk?
People of all ages can have PTSD; however, some factors may make PTSD more likely after a traumatic event, such as:
- Experiencing very severe, or long-lasting trauma
- Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
- Having a job that increases risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
- Having other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression
- Having problems with substance misuse, such as drug use or excess drinking
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Having blood relatives with mental health conditions including anxiety or depression
How common is PTSD?
- More than 12 million Americans have PTSD.
- 3.6% of the U.S. adult population experience PTSD in the past year.
- 67% of people exposed to mass violence have been shown to develop PTSD, a higher rate than those exposed to natural disasters or other types of traumatic events.
- People who have experienced previous traumatic events run a higher risk of developing PTSD.
PTSD can be treated in residential care, inpatient care, and specialized outpatient treatment, such as partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP). Evidence-based treatment is most effective for trauma recovery. The American Psychological Association lists therapies that have been shown to be most effective for PTSD and include:
- Prolonged Exposure therapy for PTSD (PE)
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) teaches adolescents skills to cope with distressing thoughts and feelings and emphasizes making the parent or guardian an active component of treatment
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
Rogers uses an evidence-based treatment model for all patients with methods that have been proven to provide relief for a patient’s symptoms.