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PTSD Part 2: Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

As people become more familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is more important than ever to get treatment and find a good support system. It is not quite the same as anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, which tend to be easier to diagnose.

With PTSD, people can range from someone who was a soldier in combat, someone who witnessed a crime, to an individual who faces something frightening to them as a child and who is still struggling with it. These events can range from moderate to severe, and still trigger the flashbacks and panic attacks that accompany PTSD.

In the last article, we discussed understanding PTSD: what is PTSD, why it is sometimes missed,  and How it is Different From Other Anxiety Disorders.  In this segment, we will discuss what can cause PTSD, determining if you are at higher risk, and the types of events that can be considered traumatic and possibly lead to PTSD.

Unlike many other forms of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder is not something you will be born with. This has an actual cause, based on an event or series of events you have gone through. As you have probably guessed, it comes from experiencing a traumatic event. Keep in mind that this might not seem traumatic to someone else, but it triggered the anxiety disorder in you. It can be different for everyone.

Are You at a Higher Risk?
Before getting into the different events that might cause PTSD, letís go over some risk factors. You should first know that absolutely anyone can get post-traumatic stress disorder, regardless of your race, religion, age, gender, or any other factors. This can happen to a small child, adolescent, adult, or senior citizen. It is not more common for certain genders or even people with particular backgrounds to suffer a PTSD inducing event.

However, there are some risk factors that might make you a little more susceptible to developing PTSD. For example, if you are someone who already has other forms of anxiety, you might be at a higher risk for getting post-traumatic stress disorder as compared to someone else who went through a similar event.

Here are some other scenarios related to traumatic events that can put you at a higher risk for PTSD:

  • You didnít get good emotional support following the incident

  • You have gone through multiple traumatic events, such as in a war or similar series of events

  • You experienced a lot of childhood trauma

  • You were a witness to someone else being hurt

  • You have a history of substance abuse

What Can Be a Traumatic Event?
As we covered in a previous section, the traumatic event that triggers post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms is not always a massive event. People often think about someone who is caught in a house fire before escaping or someone who went through combat as having PTSD. But this can happen with many different types of events.

Here are some ideas of what a PTSD inducing traumatic event might entail:

  • Being in war-related scenarios such as combat or even combat related support functions close to the fighting

  • Having to defend yourself or another person and end up killing your attacker

  • Witnessing innocent people around you being killed or severely injured in that violent attack

  • Being in a car accident where a close friend or relative was severely injured or killed

  • Having a severe accident in the workplace

  • Going through trauma during your childhood or adolescence

  • Being a victim of domestic violence

  • Witnessing someone else who was a victim of domestic violence

  • Being a victim of a robbery, whether someone was harmed or not

Post-traumatic stress disorder is not always from being in combat, physical violence, or even just the threat of physical violence. It is often emotional and stems from the fear or hopelessness experienced during those traumatic events.  In the next article, we will discuss the common signs and symptoms of PTSD as well as discussing PTSD attacks and flashbacks.


Other PTSD Articles in This Series:






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