The Truth About PTSD
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. People often believe things about mental health problems that aren’t true. Below are some myths – and facts -- about PTSD.
Myth: Once you develop PTSD you will have it for the rest of your life.
There are effective treatments for PTSD. There are both talk therapies and medicines proven to treat PTSD. And it’s never too late to get treatment for PTSD. No matter how long it’s been since you experienced a traumatic event, treatment can help. Also know that if you had treatment in the past that was not successful, it’s worth it to try again. Another evidence-based treatment may prove more successful.
Myth: Only Service members or Veterans develop PTSD.
PTSD is not just a military issue. Anyone who sees or goes through a traumatic event can develop PTSD. And Service members or Veterans may develop PTSD due to experiences other than those related to their military service. PTSD can develop after a number of different serious traumatic events, including: combat, physical assault, sexual assault, severe accident, and natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Your job also could expose you to traumatic events. First responders at a traumatic event, such as firefighters and police, can develop PTSD.
Myth: PTSD will go away on its own.
If you have symptoms a year after a traumatic experience, it is unlikely that your PTSD symptoms will go away without treatment. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can start to feel better. Some people avoid getting help for PTSD because they feel ashamed or guilty, or that someone else deserves treatment more than they do. Don’t let these negative beliefs hold you back from getting treatment. Anyone who is hurting deserves to get treatment.
Myth: If someone with PTSD has mental health problems happening at the same time (co-occurring), treatment won’t work.
Research shows that treating PTSD helps people succeed in treatment for other problems, like depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders. Talk with your healthcare provider about all your symptoms, whether or not you think they are related to PTSD. You and your healthcare provider can work together to find the best treatment options for you.
Myth: If you experienced a trauma, you will develop PTSD.
Not everyone who experiences a life-threatening trauma develops PTSD. It is normal to experience strong reactions after a traumatic event. However, most people who experience a trauma will recover in a few weeks or months. And those who develop PTSD are not weak. PTSD can happen to anyone, and it takes strength to get help.
Myth: PTSD always happens right after the traumatic event.
PTSD symptoms can develop at any time after a traumatic event. Your symptoms may start soon after the event, or you may not have them until months or years later. They may come and go over many years.