Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.
Knowing risk factors and resilience factors can help reduce risk, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Resilience is the ability to bounce back and cope after difficult situations.
- Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
- Having little or no social support after the event
- Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
- Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
- Finding a support group after a traumatic event
- Learning to feel good about your own actions in the face of danger
- Having a positive coping strategy or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
The main treatments for PTSD are medications and psychotherapy ("talk" therapy) with a health care provider. Talk therapy teaches people ways to deal with frightening events, thoughts, and memories that trigger their symptoms.
To help yourself while in treatment:
- Talk with your health care provider about treatment options
- Engage in mild physical activity or exercise to help reduce stress
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Tell others about things that may trigger symptoms
It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by an experienced mental health provider. Some people need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.
If someone you know is talking about suicide following a traumatic event, you should take it seriously and ask them to get help. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.