What is PTSD – and What Can Cause It?

PTSD is an abbreviation of post-traumatic stress disorder. The mental health condition can occur by being involved with or witnessing a terrifying event.

Common symptoms include severe anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks.

Not everyone who goes through a traumatic experience will develop PTSD, but those who do can get support from both professionals and loved ones to lessen the development or severity of the symptoms.

With time and good self-care, most people with PTSD get better. But sometimes PTSD can get worse and last for months or even years.

Now you know what PTSD is, let’s take a look at what causes the condition.

Causes of PTSD

If you go through, witness, or learn about an event that involved something like a serious injury, death, or sexual violation, the experience will be traumatic and you could develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, like anxiety.

You’ll then need to find ways of reducing your anxiety or other symptoms.

There are numerous types of incidents that could cause PTSD.

Some of the causes are:

  • Physical assault.
  • Sexual assault.
  • War and conflict.
  • Torture.
  • The death of somebody you are close to.
  • Childbirth experiences, such as the loss of a baby.
  • Childhood abuse.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Serious health problems, such as a problem that involves being admitted to intensive care.
  • Being threatened with a weapon.
  • Experiencing fires or natural disasters.
  • Being involved in a criminal incident, such as kidnapping, mugging, or robbery.
  • Being involved in a terror attack.
  • Receiving a life-threatening medical diagnosis.
  • Serious accidents, such as road accidents.

Risk Factors

Even though we know you can get PTSD after a traffic accident or fighting in combat, for instance, doctors still aren’t exactly certain as to why people develop the condition.

But it’s probably a complex combination of experiencing the traumatic event, inheriting mental health risks and temperament, and the way in which the brain regulates hormones and chemicals in the body and releases them in response to stress and trauma.

If you have a history of other mental health problems, such as anxiety or alcohol abuse, or even if you have relatives with such issues, you’re more likely to develop PTSD.

Other risk factors that mean you’re more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event include:

  • Experiencing long-lasting or intense trauma.
  • Experiencing other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse.
  • Not having a good support system of friends and family.
  • Having a job that means you’re more exposed to traumatic events, such as first responders and military personnel.

Treating PTSD

PTSD treatment is about reducing the emotional and physical symptoms that sufferers experience. They can then improve their daily functionality and better manage the event that caused the PTSD.

Psychotherapy or medication, or both, are commonly used to treat the condition.

Medications are usually antidepressants, although sometimes, certain blood pressure medications can be taken.

Psychotherapy involves helping the person to learn skills in order to help him or her to manage symptoms and develop ways of coping. Psychotherapy can also help people to work through the fears they have that are associated with the traumatic event they witnessed.

Several psychotherapy approaches are used for treating people with PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, psychodynamic therapy, Eye Desensitization and Reprocessing, family therapy, and group therapy.

Summing Up

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered in some people after they are involved with, witness, or learn about a traumatic event.

There are numerous causes, such as combat, accidents, and assault.

But thankfully, treatment is available and people who suffer from the condition often get better over time.


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