A lot of PTSD sufferers and their family members have the same question: does PTSD go away?
About 13 million people suffer from PTSD in America alone. Post-traumatic stress is often associated with veterans returning from war, but it's a disorder that can affect anyone.
You don't have to see the horrors of war to get a PTSD diagnosis, but it's an extremely common disorder for military members. Any traumatic event, mental or physical, can lead to immediate or delayed PTSD symptoms. Whether or not they go away depends on PTSD counseling and treatment.
In this post, we're going to tell you everything there is to know about PTSD. We'll help you understand how symptoms manifest, therapeutic methods, and the length of PTSD symptoms. When you suffer from PTSD, it can feel like the world is closing in, but keep reading and we'll help you find the path to healing.
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe mental health condition that can occur as a result of some terrifying event. It can happen either to someone who experienced the event directly or witnessed it.
PTSD is prevalent among soldiers due to the nature of their duties, experiencing and witnessing violence on a regular basis. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 7% of veterans will have PTSD.
That's not to say that average people can't experience PTSD. Many people experience these symptoms due to work-related stress, sexual assault, car accidents, and physical abuse, among other things. Women are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as men, among members of the general public.
Those with PTSD may experience intrusive and disturbing thoughts stemming from their traumatic experience. These can last weeks, months, or years after the event, coming in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. They can also occur long after the event takes place with physical symptoms as well.
Extreme anxiety and depression are common PTSD symptoms. Sadness, fear, and anger are emotions often associated with PTSD as well. It can be difficult for PTSD sufferers to relate to other people, which can lead to a sense of detachment and estrangement.
Certain sounds, images, or experiences can trigger PTSD symptoms. Often, this leads sufferers to avoid social situations or situations where they feel unsafe or triggered.
Particular symptoms are different for everyone. When you speak to a doctor, they may ask you to explain any intrusive thoughts you're having and whether you actively avoid reminders of the traumatic event.
Severe PTSD cases can come with alterations in mood and reactivity. You may forget parts of the event or have distorted beliefs about yourself or other people. You may have angry outbursts or engage in self-destructive behavior due to a lack of trust in yourself or others.
Most of the time, the symptoms mentioned above will begin within 3 months of the traumatic event. In rare cases, they can appear much later, even years down the road with suppressed memories.
To get a PTSD diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, you'll need to monitor the symptoms carefully. If they last for more than a month and begin to disrupt your ability to operate in your normal daily life, it's time to see your doctor.
Not every PTSD patient requires extensive treatment. As we'll see later on, symptoms can disappear on their own, but many require therapy, medication, or a combination of both to deal with them.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an umbrella term for many different types of therapy used for a range of mental illnesses including PTSD. With CBT, you'll focus on how negative thought patterns emerge from trauma.
You'll learn how to acknowledge these thoughts as they arise and how to modify them. This is done by focusing on the present and reframing how you relate to these negative thoughts. In the end, you'll retain control over the thoughts and the role they play in your day-to-day life.
Another form of CBT is prolonged exposure therapy. Here, you'll go over the details of your trauma to learn how to conquer your fears and cope with triggers.
Group therapy will have you in a room with other PTSD sufferers, where you'll share your experiences. There's no judgment and the goal is to realize that you're not alone in how you feel.
If PTSD coincides with symptoms of depression or anxiety, you may be prescribed SSRI or SNRI antidepressants. This can help control the symptoms, which can also make it easier to experience the benefits of therapy.
Does PTSD Go Away?
The Department of Veterans Affairs claims that 53% of people who receive therapy and 42% of those who receive medication see their symptoms subside after 3 months. That said, there's no real consensus on whether symptoms of PTSD subside enough to say that the condition goes away.
According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "That traumatic event can't be completely undone, though it can be diminished in the mind." Each case is different and the duration of PTSD depends on the specifics of the trauma, like how long it lasted and how the brain was affected.
It also depends on how the patient responds to medical or therapeutic treatments. With the right type of treatment, the symptoms can be managed and even mitigated.
Managing Your PTSD Symptoms
Does PTSD go away?
For many veterans, PTSD is a permanent part of life. You can't undo what's been impressed upon your mind, but with the right counseling and treatment, you can take control of your symptoms.
Finding the right counselor to help you deal with your symptoms is an important part of conquering PTSD. At Legionary Mental Health, we specialize in helping veterans with their mental health.
Our licensed mental health counselors use a variety of therapeutic tactics to get to the heart of your PTSD symptoms. Contact us today to book an appointment.