What Causes Some People to Develop PTSD and Not Others?

PTSD in military veteran
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After going through a traumatic event, it’s natural to experience a wide range of emotions such as anxiety, fearfulness and irritability. In most cases, these feelings subside as time goes on. But for some people, these feelings will persist and intensify, sometimes leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

What many people wonder, however, is why only some people develop PTSD and others do not. There are many reasons for this, including the type of trauma experienced, how long the trauma went on, and genetic and environmental factors. Let’s explore more.

What is PTSD and What are the Symptoms? 

PTSD is a mental health disorder that some people experience after witnessing or going through a traumatic event. In particular, here are some common examples of trauma: 

  • Sexual assualt or abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Physical abuse 
  • Military combat 
  • Natural disasters 
  • Mass casualty events
  • Serious car crashes 
  • Witnessing a death 

After experiencing a life-threatening event, some people may go on to experience symptoms of PTSD that include: 

  • Re-experiencing. This refers to having nightmares, flashbacks or terrifying thoughts related to the event. 
  • Avoidance. Going through great lengths to avoid the places and things related to the trauma. 
  • Arousal and reactivity. Difficulty sleeping, being easily frightened and irritability.
  • Cognitive and mood symptoms. Having trouble recalling details from the event, self-blame or guilt, or a loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. 

Risk Factors for Developing PTSD in Princeton NJ

While it’s normal to have some anxiety following a traumatic event, most people get better over time. But some do not. The feelings and fears intensify, eventually snowballing into post-traumatic stress disorder. While researchers don’t have an exact reason for why this happens, it’s believed to stem from a combination of factors. For example: 

  • Gender. Research shows that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD
  • Genetics. Studies have found a link between certain inherited disorders, such as depression, and PTSD. 
  • Lack of support. People who lack a strong support system are more likely to have strong physical and emotional reactions to trauma.
  • Mental health conditions. Those who already have a pre-existing mental health condition, such as anxiety or substance use, are more likely to develop PTSD. 
  • Type of trauma. Some types of trauma have a higher association with PTSD, such as sexual assault and military combat. 
  • Socioeconomic factors. Things like income, education and access to food, healthcare and housing also impact how people respond to trauma. 

Getting Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event goes on to develop PTSD. But some people do, so it’s important to know what symptoms to watch for and where to go for help. PTSD responds well to trauma therapy in New Jersey. 

CTRLCare Behavioral Health provides comprehensive treatment for trauma and stressor-related disorders. Our treatment approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Furthermore, we can prescribe medications for depression, anxiety and nightmares. Contact our PTSD specialist in Princeton NJ to learn more.