Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has been talked about for a long time, but not many people understand what it really is. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event that one either experiences or witnesses. Its symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
It is important to note that not everyone who experiences intense trauma will develop PTSD. But for those who do, laying to rest some of the myths associated with it can help to bring the healing that they need. In this article, I outline eight myths about PTSD.
Myth #1: People who cannot move on with their lives after a traumatic event are weak; there is something wrong with them.
The truth is that a person needs time to process what has happened after a traumatic event. Such an event can affect all parts of one’s life, long after the event has passed. Prolonged trauma can even change one’s brain chemistry.
Myth #2: Only war veterans develop PTSD.
PTSD can affect anyone. And almost everyone will experience some type of traumatic event at some point in their lives.
Myth #3: People suffer from PTSD immediately after the event.
The truth is that it takes about three months to fully process a traumatic experience, and during that time PTSD symptoms may develop. However, they may not develop until years have passed. We see this with childhood abuse in which the traumatic events become buried, but never completely forgotten. When PTSD symptoms eventually begin to appear they feel unrelated to the previous trauma because it was so long in the past.
Myth #4: Traumatic events occurred exactly as they are remembered.
The truth is that trauma is all about our perception of it. For example, two people can witness the same traumatic event, and each will perceive different things about it.
Myth #5: Time heals all wounds.
The passage of time is not an indicator of healing. If that were the case, then someone who had experienced childhood abuse would heal completely just by getting older.
Myth #6: Everyone who experiences life-threatening events will develop PTSD.
In fact, most people won’t develop PTSD. That is not to say that an event is not traumatic, but rather that some people are able to process such events easier than others. Moreover, people who are exposed to interpersonal trauma, such as sexual assault or warfare, are more likely to develop PTSD than those who have experienced natural disasters or accidents.
Myth #7: I must be really weak if I can’t deal with this.
PTSD not a sign of weakness. There are several factors that influence how we react to traumatic events and whether we experience symptoms of PTSD as a result. The type of trauma, the severity, and longevity of the trauma, how the brain processes events and even the social support received can influence whether or not the person develops PTSD. Moreover, everyone is different.
Myth #8: Nothing can be done for someone with PTSD.
Actually, there are several therapies that work very well for people with PTSD symptoms. PTSD is very responsive to treatment and there are several therapies that are highly effective. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy works extremely well, and other therapies are also effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Lifespan Integration (LI), and prolonged exposure are all interventions that can work in healing PTSD.
Christian Counseling to Overcome Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, there is hope. As a Christian counselor with experience in EMDR therapy, I am here to help you.
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