The Causes of PTSD explained – The Mindful Space
PTSD can be triggered by different types of events, such as the sudden death of a loved one, war or a natural disaster, among many other things. But what really causes PTSD? When you bump into a stressful situation, your nervous system activates the fight or flight response. Your heart beats quicker, your blood pressure increases, and your muscle tightens, all of which increase your strength and reaction time. Once the threat has passed, your nervous system relaxes your body, decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, and returns to normal. But when you are exposed to too much stress in an event, you may develop post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD often affects victims from families, emergency personnel, and rescue workers. The National Center of PTSD reports that seven to 8% of the United States population develops PTSD at some point in their lives. According to the studies, PTSD is twice as common in women as it is in men. Some of the common causes of PTSD include being sexually abused or raped being involved in a car accident, being assaulted, harassed, or bullied, including identity based abuse like homophobia and racism. Being abducted, held hostage, or had something put your life in jeopardy working in the emergency services or the armed forces, where you might see or hear disturbing things, surviving catastrophic disasters like flooding, earthquakes, or pandemics, or enduring the unexpected death of a loved one. As you can tell, trauma takes many forms. Trauma can even be secondary. That means even the act of hearing about traumatic events could cause a trauma response and contribute to PTSD. After PTSD forms, it’s common to feel detached from the incident as you are seen, rather than experiencing it. A mental health care provider, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker, can decide if your symptoms fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. They will look for intrusive memories where you flashback to the incident and reexperience the feelings like chills, shaking, headaches, or panic. You may also notice intensive motions or have furious outbursts. Another sign is avoiding reminders of the trauma. You might avoid people or places that trigger a memory. You might even avoid feelings altogether. Developing emotional numbness, negativity about yourself and others with deep feelings of shame or guilt can also be common. In children, the situation is slightly different. Under the age of six, you might see kids forgetting or being unable to speak, acting out of frightening experience during playtime, being unusual attached to a parent or another adult, and wetting the bed after learning to use the toilet. Now, in teens, PTSD cause disruptive, impolite, or harmful behavior. They may also harbor suicidal thoughts. There is no specific cure for posttraumatic stress disorder, although a variety of main treatments can reduce its physical symptoms. Medication, counseling and even VR therapy, as we explored in our last video, have been proven very effective. In particular, eye movement, disincitation and reprocessing or EMDR is a sort of psychotherapy usually used with trauma survivors. This therapy employs bilateral sensory input, such as side aside eye movements, to assist you in processing challenging memories, ideas and emotions associated with your trauma. People with PTSD may also need to experiment with lifestyle changes until they find what works. Staying physically active, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and learning different ways to relax your mind and body may help. If you want to learn more, check our podcast session with Natalia Salderiaga, where we explore trauma, the true cause of PTSD, and different ways to overcome it.