Traumatic events don't always lead to PTSD ...
As mentioned, some people experience some of the symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder in the first few days after a traumatic event, but then find they subside naturally over time. People with similar symptoms to PTSD, that last less than a month, may be suffering from Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). However for others their symptoms are simply a typical brief anxiety reaction and which don't not need to be seen as a psychological “disorder”.
Some people experience some but not all symptoms of PTSD. Mental health professionals will sometimes use the label of Adjustment Disorder, to describe a person's post traumatic response. Some people who are diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder will have equally severe, or even more severe, symptoms as others with PTSD. Labels are not necessarily all about how bad your symptoms are, but more about what type of symptoms you have.
Other people experience few significant anxiety symptoms but do notice feeling down, lacking in motivation, or losing interest in activities which they previously enjoyed. These people may be suffering from Depression, a separate but not uncommon psychological reaction to trauma. In fact it is not uncommon for people to be suffering from both PTSD and Depression following a traumatic incident.
While Post traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the more common disorders to be triggered by a traumatic event, many other disorders appear to potentially triggered. Some of these include: Panic Disorder, Specific Phobias, Adjustment Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Insomnia, Borderline Personality Disorder (), Psychotic Disorders, etc.
It is also worth saying at this point that labels, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are not the most important thing about trauma reactions. While labels can be helpful, in guiding professionals to appropriate treatments and communicating to others the type of problems you are experiencing, the real issue is not the label but what you are experiencing!
For more information about PTSD symptoms go to our symptoms page. However you should be aware that this information is general information on trauma reactions. For an accurate diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder you should consult an appropriately qualified mental health professional.
Delayed onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Amongst those who do develop the disorder, their reaction may be acute, lasting less than three months, or chronic, lasting more than three months.
However, in some cases a person seems to be coping well immediately after a traumatic event but several months later develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Despite the delay, these symptoms can be severe and debilitating. While this reaction sometimes apparently comes out of the blue, in many cases there is a trigger, such as a stressful event, which causes the reaction.
While some people with delayed onset PTSD had been acting a feeling “normally” prior to the delayed reaction, in retrospect they will often identify that there had been some changes in their behaviour following the traumatic event. For example, some people say that they had been keeping themselves extremely busy or had been a bit vague or emotionally number following the initial trauma experience.
For details how to find a therapist / psychologist near you with expertise in PTSD treatment
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For more on symptoms of PTSD click here .