PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition often caused by experiencing a traumatic event. While it is commonly found in returning service men and women, it is not isolated to those who have seen combat or experienced war. It can also come from being involved in a form of trauma, such as a bad car accident, being the victim of domestic abuse, severe bullying, and homelessness. It can even result from childhood abuse, C-PTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD can affect different people in different ways. But for most, they tend to experience severe anxiety, mood swings, depression, aggression, irritability and insomnia. The mental health condition can also result in a person becoming triggered. What this term means about PTSD is that something that seems normal to most, for example, fireworks, can trigger a very serious panic attack that may involve a flashback to the traumatic event. Hallucinations are common during these events and can be distressing for all involved – as a result, a common concern is whether PTSD ever goes away.
It is important to understand that PTSD won’t look the same for everyone. For example, as with all mental health conditions, hormones and how people are socialised as they grow up alter how post traumatic stress disorder presents itself.
When you look at the difference between men and women who have PTSD, you will see that men often experience symptoms of anger and perhaps even violent outbursts. In contrast, women tend to struggle more with anxiety and depression symptoms.
It’s important to remember that PTSD symptoms affect people differently – it doesn’t look the same for everyone. You need to consider all the symptoms and not try to limit yourself or others because of assumptions surrounding how PTSD is presented in men and women. You may be wondering ‘does PTSD ever go away?’, especially if you are suffering from problems related to the mental disorder. It is possible for symptoms to decrease over time, and PTSD can be treated with the help of medical professionals.
How is PTSD Diagnosed?
As with all mental health problems, a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis is often not quick. It often starts with a simple trip to your GP to discuss your mental health. From there, you will be referred to a specialist who can diagnose you with PTSD and start getting the mental health treatment you need.
It may seem intimidating to talk about your trauma, but it is the only way to get help for your PTSD. So here is what you can expect from your assessment:
You will talk with a mental health expert, and they will ask you some questions about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. During this, you will likely be asked about the CAPS-5 PTSD assessment. This is a structured assessment that contains 30 questions and helps to identify PTSD symptoms over the past week. From the questions answered a medical professional will make a current PTSD diagnosis. 30 questions may seem like a lot, but it is all in your best interest to answer them as honestly as possible.
The Varied Nature of PTSD Recovery
An important thing to remember before you start any journey involving your mental health, especially for PTSD, is that recovery isn’t a race – it is a slow walk towards a better life, and the recovery journey is something that can transform your life. Some people have an easier path to follow if they experience a less severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD recovery is all about you and what works for you.
Before you embark on your journey, we must answer a simple question. Does PTSD ever go away? The simple answer is no. It is a mental illness; like all mental illnesses, it will be a part of your life for the rest of your life. But this is not something to be disheartened by.
PTSD recovery is about learning how to manage your PTSD. So while it may still be there, its effect on your life may be incredibly limited if treatment for PTSD is successful for you. That being said, unfortunately, PTSD can’t just be managed through sheer willpower. The mental disorder requires professional treatment and the understanding that there are no shortcuts.
Many people living with PTSD will turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate. But unfortunately, all this does is make it harder to make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage your PTSD.
It is a difficult process, and you may struggle at times; it may feel like you have failed, but that is all part of the journey towards positive mental health and PTSD recovery.
Does PTSD Ever Go Away?
While it is technically always still there, some people can manage their PTSD so well through a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes that, in a sense, it feels as though it has gone away.
But that doesn’t mean they should stop their medication or anything else they are doing to manage their PTSD because it seems like it’s gone. It means that they have found a routine that is working for them.
Treatment Options for PTSD
There are a few treatment options available for PTSD:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive Processing Therapy
- Prolonged Exposure
- Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
- Narrative Exposure Therapy
- Individual Therapy
- Psychedelic Therapy
As with all mental health treatments, it all starts with talking to a professional to create a treatment plan that works for you. It takes time to find what works for you. Trust the process, and you will start to see results.
If you would prefer something a bit less formal, you do also have the option to find a local support group. There are support groups for the armed forces, domestic abuse survivors and many more. There you will be able to talk to others who really understand what you are going through, and they can help you.
Supporting Loved Ones with PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is difficult, and it can be incredibly isolating. If you have a loved one struggling with PTSD, the best thing you can do for them is be there for them. Offer them your love and your support so that they see they are not alone.
Help to ground them so that they can focus on their mental health and their treatments for PTSD. It will be a long and difficult journey, so please try to be there with them every step of the way.