Mainstream media has over-generalized PTSD and caused the public to be misguided concerning its facts. Learn the difference between PTSD and acute stress, the two types of trauma disorders.
Acute stress is the onset of stress from a traumatic event. The perception of trauma from an event can also cause acute stress. However, it is not the same as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Acute stress has an onset of three days to one month after the event. The diagnosis for acute stress includes between nine and fourteen symptoms. A doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist should make the diagnosis.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological trauma disorder. It results from a period of anxiety beyond the initial three months following a traumatic incident. It can last for years. It is believed that war veterans and victims of violence suffered from PTSD. The disorder’s reach now includes non-life-threatening events. Such events include divorce and financial disasters. Comorbid sufferers have more than one stress disorder. Depression or phobias also fall into the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (Rosen, 2008). Genetics, gender, development, and trauma are common risk factors of PTSD (Christine Heim, 2009).
People with PTSD due to physical or sexual abuse have a history of health problems. They also have lower cortisol production. These types of abuse are chronic and usually start early in development. Also, adversity at young ages can have a depressing effect on an individual’s health.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is symptomatic of trauma-induced brain changes. These changes are caused by the inability of the brain to process acute stress. Changes caused by PTSD include lowered cortisol levels, learning problems, stress, and triggers. There are also physical changes in the brain that cause memory fog and depression. Variables at PTSD onset are a predisposition, genetics, sexual orientation, and exposure to stressors. Risk factors include a lack of health services and the perception of shame.
We should not ignore acute stress or depression that lasts longer than three months. Again, a doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist needs to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. There are several treatments available for acute stress, PTSD, and depression. Your doctor or psychiatrist will walk you through those options.