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What Is PTSD? Understanding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can have a significant impact on the professional, social, and personal lives of those who have experienced significant trauma in their lives. Understanding what PTSD is, how it manifests, and the treatment options available can help raise awareness and help those suffering to identify and pursue the mental health resources they need.


What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is defined by psychiatry.org as “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances.” Although many people associate Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with those who have served in the military, non-military veterans can develop this disorder through traumatic experiences such as natural disasters, bullying, domestic violence, serious accidents, terrorist acts, sexual violence, and more.

Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to a traumatic event or series of events. Psychiatry.org defines exposure as “directly experiencing an event, witnessing a traumatic event happening to others, or learning that a traumatic event happened to a close family member or friend.”


How does Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Manifest?

PTSD can manifest itself in many different ways, with manifestations ranging from mild to intense. Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder may begin appearing within months of a traumatic event or can remain dormant for years or even decades before manifesting. Symptoms are commonly categorized into four different types of manifestations: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Those who experience even mild Posttraumatic Stress Disorder symptoms can face challenges navigating through their daily lives. The impacts of PTSD can be felt throughout the personal and professional lives of a diagnosee, including the hindrance and prevention of someone with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from living their lives. In addition, those who struggle with PTSD are 3 times more likely to misuse or abuse substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol – which can make treatment more challenging.


How is PTSD Addressed?

Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can vary based on the individual case, the intensity, and manifestations of the symptoms, and the underlying or recurring traumas experienced. Treatment of PTSD should be guided and informed by a mental health professional who is familiar with the disorder. Once diagnosed, mental health professionals may choose psychotherapy, medications, or both.


Mental Health Careers Working with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Mental health professionals work closely with those seeking treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. There are multiple career paths for those interested in working with those who suffer from PTSD, including pathways in social work, clinical mental health counseling, addictions counseling, trauma counseling, and more. Specializations within PTSD, including specific job titles, certifications, and degrees can be achieved.


University of Providences Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

The University of Providence’s Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program prepares students to serve as competent, compassionate, and culturally literate counselors ready and willing to take on growing challenges in mental health. Graduates of our three-year program will graduate with a broad understanding of core counseling practices and methods in individual and group environments. Learn more about our Clinical Mental Health Counseling program curriculum today!