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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Causes

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Updated On
Written By Gina Walters
Sad veteran suffering from PTSD

“Researchers estimate that at least 70 per cent of adults experience one traumatic event in their lifetime.”

How an individual will react to a traumatic event varies from person to person. Such an event in life can cause physical and mental damage to a person in injury, anxiety, and depression. It is said that 20 per cent of people who suffer a distressing event in life will most probably develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) is a type of mental health disorder characterized by the failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a traumatizing event in life.

In other words, it is a mental health complication in which a person experiences a persistent mental and emotional shock due to a shocking, scary and dangerous event.

People diagnosed with PTSD suffer from symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event that took place in the past.

If one does not consult a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist to get effective treatment for PTSD, then the symptom can last for months and even years.

In addition, life experiences can trigger back the memories of the traumatic event and lead to intense emotional and physical reactions if one does get it treated in time.

Researchers estimate that about six out of every hundred people living in the United States will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. To be precise, about 15 million adults have PTSD during a given year.

What Does PTSD Feel Like?

People who get diagnosed with PTSD can experience intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings, which can significantly reduce their quality of life for an individual.

In addition, patients who have PTSD relive the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares.

The memory can trigger feelings of anger and fear. Some of the main signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows.

  • Having recurrent flashbacks and nightmares
  • Difficulty in getting a good amount of sleep
  • Experiencing negative thoughts about oneself
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Increased irritability and sudden outbursts of anger
  • The distorted feeling of worry, guilt, and shame
  • Feelings of tension or on edge
  • Mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Avoiding people, situations, or things that remind of the traumatic events
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Self-destructive behavior like reckless driving or substance abuse
  • Reduced interest in sexual intimacy

Such symptoms of PTSD can deteriorate an individual’s physical and mental health and trigger severe medical complications like eating disorders, substance abuse or depression, and anxiety.

Additionally, 85% of male PTSD patients experience episodes of erectile dysfunction. Out of which 45% of them have moderate to severe symptoms. You can say, chronic sexual dysfunction is a complication of PTSD.

However, getting an early diagnosis of PTSD can help manage the symptoms effectively in the long run. 

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What Are the Main Causes of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is also called battle fatigue syndrome because much military personnel often suffer from symptoms of PTSD as an acute reaction to the stress of war. Common symptoms of such battle fatigue syndrome include slowed reaction time, indecision, and sleep disturbances.

Researchers estimate that the prevalence of PTSD in deployed United States personnel can be as high as 14-16%.

A mental health complication like PTSD can be attributed to several traumatic events in life such as severe injury, abuse, physical or sexual assault, war and conflict, and chronic diseases.

PTSD can occur when an individual is exposed to trauma, including experiencing, witnessing, or even learning about it can become a traumatic experience. Some of the leading causes that can trigger mental health disorders like PTSD are as follows.


Researchers estimate that motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder.

People who suffer life-threatening injuries due to accidents that leave them disabled may experience chronic anxiety about driving or riding in vehicles. The symptom of PTSD can occur within weeks, months, and even years after the traumatic event.


People who have been physically or sexually assaulted in life face a higher risk of suffering the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers say that violent personal assaults are the leading cause of PTSD, one in three people who experience such a trauma develop the condition.

Many people who are assaulted in life hesitate to seek out the necessary medical term due to the shame, embarrassment, and stigma attached to sexual assault.

Chronic diseases:

People who get diagnosed with chronic diseases like liver cancer, heart and liver diseases, viral hepatitis, and Sexually transmitted infections (STI) can experience symptoms of PTSD.

Along with the treatment of chronic diseases, it is essential to maintain a good mental health state to reduce the risk of mental health issues like depression and PTSD.

Also Read: Seasonal Depression Disorder- Symptoms and Causes

Family history:

People who have a family history of mental illness are at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Though PTSD is mainly triggered due to traumatic events in life, it does have a genetic component that makes it inheritable.

Research has shown that experiencing trauma may leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, passed down to future generations.

Emotional support:

People who have pre-existing mental health complications like anxiety or depression become more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder if they suffer a traumatic event.

Not getting the proper emotional support from close family members and friends during such events can worsen an individual’s mental health.


Experiencing symptoms of PTSD like anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and guilt are common reactions to a traumatic event in life. Usually, the symptoms of PTSD can be managed and treated by taking proper medical treatment in time.

There are various effective research-proven methods apart from taking medication that can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder. One can take therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy, which are pretty effective in treating the symptom of PTSD.

Getting the right sort of support from people can help one prevent turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.

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