According to the National Center For PTSD, “about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and genes may make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others”. It is further estimated that approximately 5.2 million people are currently suffering from PTSD in the US (NIMH).
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be a severely debilitating disorder that can jeopardize a person’s overall sense of well bring, their ability to effectively do and hold down a job and/or maintain nurturing family and interpersonal relationships. People suffering from PTSD are also known to have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. If left untreated, it could lead to devastating outcomes. It is for this reason that there has been a significant increase in medical research as well as in the number of PTSD Clinical Trials being conducted throughout the United States devoted to the treatment of PTSD.
It is important to note that a person does not have to have served in the military and been engaged in mortal combat in one of the various hot spots where our brave servicemen and women have been assigned to have developed PTSD. Anyone who has experienced a traumatic or life-threatening event or who has endured protracted abuse at some point over the course of his or her life can also develop PTSD. Who develops PTSD has a lot to do with a person’s coping skills. Everyone has a breaking point, and it is different situation by situation, as well as from one individual to another. This is why, faced with the same set of variables, one person may develop PTSD while others will not.
Early on, it was thought that in those who developed PTSD (or shell shock/battle fatigue as it was previously referred to) it was a sign of (mental/emotional) weakness. However, there are a number of very successful people who have suffered from PTSD at some point during their lives who are considered by many to possess very strong personalities. Examples of some well-known celebrities purported to have suffered from PTSD include Monica Seles, Whoppi Goldberg, Mick Jagger, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Alanis Morissette, Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand. What is important is that, through the help of support groups, counseling, and medications, all were able to confront the devils inside them and go on to lead productive lives.
Though recognized and studied for decades under one name or another, mental health care professionals cannot predict with certainty who will go on to develop PTSD and who will not. Fortunately, PTSD is treatable. The first step is recognizing and accepting that you have a problem. There are numerous organizations out there that can provide vital information about PTSD as well as direct you to healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. As alluded to earlier, for many, PTSD is treatable through talk therapy/psychotherapy alone or in combination with medications (most notably, antidepressants and antianxiety medications). In addition, there are support groups a person can attend where people can share common experiences as to why they are currently suffering from PTSD, as well as how they are coping.
There are also, at any given time, a number of PTSD Clinical Trials being conducted throughout the United States, that are evaluating new medications which may prove to be more effective at alleviating the symptoms of PTSD than is currently available. Two sites on the web that may be helpful in identifying where there is a medical institution near you that is conducting medical research into a potential treatment for PTSD are CenterWatch and ClinicalTrials.gov.