Post-traumatic Stress Disorder also known as PTSD, is a serious mental health issue that is often accompanied by a great deal of stigma. Along with that stigma is a large amount of myths and misunderstandings about the disorder which can lead to negative implications such as prejudice and maltreatment. Here are just a few of the myths we will be clearing up today.
MYTH 1: PTSD IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
This is unfortunately a very common myth. Developing PTSD is not a sign of weakness in the slightest. It is an understandable human response to uncommon experiences.
Though PTSD is thought of as only a military disorder, it is actually more common among those who have been in a car accident or had an abusive relationship. No matter what the cause, this disorder comes from an intense traumatic experience that left them unable to feel safe and has caused physical damage to the way their mind functions.
MYTH 2: ANYTHING CAN BE TRAUMATIC
Well, not quite. Any event can be stressful or frustrating, but not traumatic. In order for an event to be traumatic, it means that it caused an individual to be exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence. The individual themselves do not have to be directly involved for the event to be traumatic, those witnessing the event are just as likely to develop PTSD or another mental disorder as a result.
MYTH 3: PTSD OCCURS IMMEDIATELY AFTER EXPERIENCING A TRAUMA
Not everyone experiences PTSD immediately after the traumatic event to occur. In some cases, PTSD can even wait a few months before the symptoms arise. For example, many soldiers do not develop PTSD until they are finally back home and out of the warzone. For it to be diagnosed as PTSD, symptoms do need to last for longer than a month however. Otherwise, the anxiety you feel may just be a normal reaction to a traumatic and unusual event.
MYTH 4: PEOPLE WITH PTSD ARE CRAZY AND DANGEROUS
This is another increasingly common myth and is often used in movie plots as the “crazy war vet” stereotype. However, PTSD is not characterized by psychosis or violence. In fact, symptoms of PTSD have more to do with anxiety, distressing memories, and changes in mood. They are not “crazy” and very few are at all aggressive as a result of their trauma.
MYTH 5: PEOPLE WITH PTSD CANNOT FUNCTION IN THE MILITARY OR WORK ENVIRONMENT
Sadly, this myth partly has to do with many military members and others with PTSD being too afraid to seek treatment due to the large stigma around it. However, people with PTSD can still have a budding career, even a military one, as long as they get the treatment and care they need for their disorder.
MYTH 6: PEOPLE WITH PTSD SHOULD JUST GET OVER IT
This is a common myth for the majority of those with mental disorders. While some of those with PTSD can absolutely be treated for their condition and reach a point where they no longer meet the criteria for the diagnosis, this is not something that just magically goes away.
A mental disorder is not just the “blues” or “attention-seeking behavior”. It is a physical sickness of the mind that causes certain feelings, thoughts, sensations or memories to be overwhelming. Sometimes to the point where they cannot support themselves, trust others or continue doing the things they love. Someone with PTSD would love nothing more than to wave their magical wand and be done with their disorder, but it just does not work like that.
However, with treatment and patience, it is possible to manage the disorder and for some to be practically rid of it all together. However, this takes time and not everyone will be lucky enough to reach that point. Especially if they are unable to have the support of loved ones.