June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month: Learn the facts, signs and symptoms, effective treatments, and resources
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a condition that develops in those who have experienced intense fear as a result of a shocking, scary, dangerous, or an otherwise traumatic event. Fear occurs naturally as part of our “flight-or-fight” response, and can protect us from dangerous or harmful events. Many of us experience traumatic events during our lifetime that result in a triggering of the “flight-or-fight” response. While some of us are able to recover from this event overtime, those who suffer with PTSD experience an ongoing re-triggering of this “flight-or-fight” response long after the danger is no longer present.
- Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD.
- Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD.
- It is important to differentiate between PTSD and acute stress disorder, or ASD. ASD occurs after a stressful or traumatic event, yet lasts no more than a few weeks. When the symptoms last more than a month, seriously affect one’s ability to function, and are not due to substance use, medical illness, or anything except the event itself, they might indicate PTSD.
- Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.
- PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.
- Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward.
- Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD.
- The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
- About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
- Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
- Genes may make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others.
- A licensed mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or licensed professional counselor can diagnose PTSD.
Where to go for more information and help
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255) or Confidential Veterans Chat with a counselor
- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAIN) (24 Hours): 800.656.4673
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.7233
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hope Line: 800.622.2255
- MedlinePlus offers information in English and en Español .
- The National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has a website with targeted information for anyone interested in PTSD (including veterans, family, and friends) and for professional researchers and health care providers. The site also offers videos and information about an online app called PTSD Coach.
- Clinician’s Guide to Medications for PTSD : This material was developed for researchers, providers and helpers by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
To learn more, view Part 2: Signs and Symptoms and Part 3: Treatment.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2016, Feb.) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
Written by Chelsea Fielder-Jenks, LPC and Therapist at Sage Recovery and Wellness Center
Chelsea Fielder-Jenks is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas with a Master of Arts degree in Health Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Texas State University. She utilizes Cognitive Behavioral and Dialectical Behavioral Therapies and takes a holistic approach to helping others, which considers biological, psychological, environmental, and cultural aspects of their lives.
Chelsea has experience working with individuals, families, and groups at outpatient and inpatient levels of care. Her clinical experience has been in helping individuals with a wide range of issues, including anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders, self-harm behaviors, stress management, and more. Chelsea specializes in treating eating disorders and eating disorder dual diagnoses. She began her experience working with eating disorders as a Practicum Student Therapist at the Eating Disorder Center at San Antonio and Hill Country Recovery Center (HCRC). After earning her Masters degree, Chelsea was then a therapist at HCRC, where she conducted individual and family therapy and facilitated the Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program for Eating Disorders. Chelsea also has experience working at Austin Oaks Hospital, where she has served as an inpatient and outpatient therapist and the Interim Director of Outpatient Services. At Sage, Chelsea facilitates the 7-week Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program and Adolescent DBT Skills Group, and conducts individual and family therapy.
Chelsea is certified in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Training from Behavioral Tech, LLC. She is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Austin Eating Disorder Specialists group and an active supporter of the National Eating Disorder Association and the Binge Eating Disorder Association.