Have you ever been talking to a friend about something embarrassing that has happened to them and they say something like “it gave me PTSD,” or even just “PTSD” in a jokingly way? Mental illnesses are often used as adjectives and fault in character when having a mental illness is different from both these things. You cannot get PTSD by being embarrassed, you’re not OCD if you’re a perfectionist, the weather isn’t Bipolar, and that naturally skinny friend doesn’t have Anorexia. This is a topic that gets me fired up…pretty much every day. Every time I go into the public I hear false accusations being used as jokes about serious disorders and illnesses such as Retardation, ADHD, ADD, and basically any mental illness you can think of. But, today I’ve decided to narrow it down to just one topic – PTSD.

As most of you know, I’m diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) but I also recently got an additional diagnosis of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD). Most people with BPD have been through childhood trauma or have a genetic factor which makes the illness diagnosable, however, Borderlines usually don’t suffer from PTSD because it is a separate diagnosis. Trauma and Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder are two very different things, while trauma is defined as a deeply disturbing event, PTSD is defined as the ongoing haunting of that event. Most people, after experiencing trauma, will naturally overcome post-traumatic events but people suffering from PTSD continue to feel these strong amounts of emotion, fear, and submission. People with PTSD often feel like they are in danger when they’re not. Click here to read about the biological aspects of PTSD and the brain.

Is Trauma different from PTSD?

Yes! I will explain why. trauma is defined as an event that is distressing or disturbing while Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) is the disorder after such event. All people will experience off-kilter thoughts, emotions, and impulses after a traumatic event but it starts to become a problem after a significant time has passed and that person is still struggling and starts to develop a sense of danger even when there is no threat at hand.

As I said answering the FAQ’s; “Every individual has a different threshold for life and each person has different triggers, beliefs, morals, faiths, experiences, education, and opportunities which make it impossible for two different people to attend the same event and have the exact same outcome, even if they’re family” everyone experiences events differently, for example, the bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester is where a mass amount of people experienced horrific suicide bomber attack. Not every single person that went to that concert or saw that tragedy developed PTSD, of course, many people did but the disorder didn’t attach to everyone at the concert. At the same time, people who are bullied in elementary school at a severe level usually don’t end up with PTSD but a handful of those people do. As I have said before the validity of PTSD has nothing to do with the actual event.

Why do people with PTSD have service animals?

People with PTSD often suffer from daily triggers such as loud noises and physical contact. They suffer from regular paranoid thoughts which can result in anxiety attacks, isolation, and create a lag in the persons functioning ability. People with PTSD have service dogs to alert them to these triggers, thoughts, and help their functioning. For example, I am getting a service dog and she will be trained to remind me to take my medication, wake me up and remind me to go to sleep, she will be trained in deep pressure therapy where she will press down on certain parts of my body to help calm a hallucinatory attack or anxiety attack.

Is PTSD curable?

Just like most mental illnesses, PTSD has no defined cure but with treatment and medication you can restore for normal functioning and have a normal life without PTSD interruptions.

What do I do if I think I (or someone I love) is suffering from PTSD?

If you think you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD, please talk to a doctor. Depending on your situation will depend on the services available to you. Click here to see my guide to receiving treatment. If you are in college or university there should be an office that offers counselling, accommodations, psychiatrists, and general practitioners which should be 100% covered by your school but this varies school to school. Try looking on the website, McMaster has an amazing Wellness Centre that offers all of these and so much more, so if you’re in the Hamilton area I suggest checking them out. If you are at home or at work check out your jobs resources, Starbucks has amazing help for us in need of mental health treatment, or go to your general practitioner who will provide a referral to a mental health specialist.

Do you have to be in the military to have PTSD?

Although the military is most widely known for the development of PTSD, you don’t have to be in the military to develop the disorder. Any individual traumatic event can develop into PTSD and a single traumatic event can happen to thousands of people but only a handful of people will develop the disorder.

Is it genetic?

Evidence shows that those with a genetically smaller hippocampus are more likely to develop PTSD. Click here to learn more about PTSD and brain chemistry.

Does it have to be a severe event to get PTSD?

It doesn’t have to be a severe event to experience PTSD and PTSD-like symptoms. Sadly in modern society, we have developed a “competition”-like-attitude that often compares each PTSD story making the worse the event the more valid the disorder. I really want to highlight that this is 100% FALSE. Every individual has a different threshold for life and each person has different triggers, beliefs, morals, faiths, experiences, education, and opportunities which make it impossible for two different people to attend the same event and have the exact same outcome, even if they’re family.

 

Is PTSD curable?

Just like most mental illnesses, PTSD has no defined cure but with treatment and medication you can restore for normal functioning and have a normal life without PTSD interruptions.

What do I do if I think I (or someone I love) is suffering from PTSD?

If you think you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD, please talk to a doctor. Depending on your situation will depend on the services available to you. Click here to see my guide to receiving treatment. If you are in college or university there should be an office that offers counselling, accommodations, psychiatrists, and general practitioners which should be 100% covered by your school but this varies school to school. Try looking on the website, McMaster has an amazing Wellness Centre that offers all of these and so much more, so if you’re in the Hamilton area I suggest checking them out. If you are at home or at work check out your jobs resources, Starbucks has amazing help for us in need of mental health treatment, or go to your general practitioner who will provide a referral to a mental health specialist.

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Percent of People who Suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime

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