What is PTSD?

Kelly Clarke, LMFT

Jun 1, 2021

When we hear the term “PTSD” most people immediately think that means someone is unable to move on after a traumatic event. But what PTSD actually is:

  • Unwanted memories
  • Negative self-image
  • Hypervigilance
  • Emotional distress
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Excessive blame
  • Dissociation
  • Flashbacks
  • Easily scared
  • Sense of threat
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance/isolation
  • Memory problems
  • Nightmares
  • Anger, guilt, shame
  • Self-destructive behaviors
person looking sad

     PTSD is defined as a psychiatric disorder that may occur in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, combat, rape or who have been threatened with death/serious injury. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives; about 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year and about 10 of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men.

     There are many myths and misconceptions about PTSD, and although most people will experience some type of trauma in their life, not everyone goes on to develop PTSD. These are some of the most common myths and facts related to PTSD: 

Myth: Only military veterans experience PTSD.

     Fact: PTSD can impact anyone who experiences, witnesses or has secondhand exposure to a traumatic event.


Myth: PTSD occurs immediately after a traumatic event.

     Fact: Symptoms of PTSD can take months or years to appear. 


Myth: PTSD is a sign of weakness.

     Fact: PTSD is not all related to weakness. While the majority of people who go through a traumatic ordeal do go on to readjust to normal life after a period of time, not everyone can, and it has nothing to do with mental weakness.


Myth: Everyone with PTSD experiences the same symptoms.

     Fact: PTSD can present very differently, depending on the person and type of trauma experienced.


Myth: PTSD will just go away over time.

     Fact: The majority of PTSD cases will not resolve on their own.

Written by:

Kelly Clarke, LMFT


Jun 1, 2021


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