PTSD: Risk and Resilience Factors
By Duane Hewitt
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can strike anyone, from young children to the elderly. A simplified definition of PTSD is the stress that follows being witness to or experiencing a terrifying or traumatic event. It is most often associated with war veterans and those who witnessed or experienced combat and the horrors of war. But PTSD can also strike survivors of abuse, disasters, terror attacks, auto accidents, and other serious events, as well as anyone who has been physically or sexually assaulted. And PTSD can happen quickly and unexpectedly or it can fester and strike years later.
Determining if someone has PTSD should be diagnosed by a specialist who has expertise in this area. Symptoms can include flashbacks, bad dreams, angry outbursts, depression, and frightening thoughts, to name a few. And the symptoms and severity of PTSD can differ person-to-person. Furthermore, some people may be more prone to developing PTSD whereas others may seem to be more immune to developing this condition, despite surviving and witnessing equally traumatic events.
It’s important to understand that there are Risk Factors associated with PTSD, but it may be more important for those with PTSD to focus on and developing Resilience Factors.
PTSD Risk Factors can include:
- Witnessing or experiencing dangerous or terrifying events
- Trauma, shock, pain, and stressful ordeals
- Seeing people die or getting hurt
- Experiencing additional stress after a serious event, such as pain and injury or the loss of a friend or loved one
- Childhood trauma
- Feeling extreme fear, terror, or helplessness
- Lacking the necessary societal support after the experience
- Dealing with a past history of substance abuse or mental illness
Resilience Factors that might help lessen the impact of PTSD can include:
- Developing a coping strategy, like being able to learn from the experience and getting through it
- Seeking out a support group, be it professional or supportive friends and family
- Finding ways to feel good about yourself, your purpose and future
- Finding ways to live and act effectively despite your fears and emotions
A big component to the resilience factors is having the insight and intelligence to manage and navigate the maze and pitfalls of PTSD. By example, an individual who possesses the acumen to seek help and maintain perspective on the cause and potential solutions for their PTSD is likely to fare better than someone who lacks that level of insight. But the bottom line is, we can all use help.
If you feel it might help you, the following links offer resources and help for those who suffer with PTSD:
Copyright 2020 Duane Hewitt