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5 Common Causes of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typically diagnosed a month or longer after a traumatic event. While this mental disorder can appear within weeks of a traumatic event, it can also take years for it to develop. When someone has PTSD, they re-experience trauma and have problems sleeping. They may feel emotionally numb, jumpy, angered or irritated. Often, individuals suffer from flashbacks and nightmares after the event. Unfortunately, this mental disorder can be triggered by a variety of different causes.

1. Military Service and Combat

One of the most famous causes of post-traumatic stress disorder is military combat. The National Center for PTSD estimates that about 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars suffers from this mental disorder. In addition, about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans have been given this diagnosis at some point in their lives. With so many possible causes of traumatic events like gunfire, bombings and roadside attacks, it is unsurprising that military combat is a leading cause for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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2. Serious Road Accidents

There are millions of car accidents every year, but most of them will not cause a mental disorder. In general, the accidents most likely to cause flashbacks are serious, stressful and distressing accidents. These could be an accident where a loved one died or where the other car had fatalities. It could also just be a car accident that was particularly frightening or large in size. Afterward, the individual may have flashbacks when they are driving and are placed in a similar situation again. If they had the accident while turning left on a highway, they may become nervous or have flashbacks when they try to turn left in the future.

3. Prolonged Abuse

When someone experiences severe neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse, it leaves an indelible impression on their mind. Often, survivors of sexual abuse end up developing mental disorders like anxiety, PTSD and depression. With the right help, these individuals can gradually start recovering and move past their abuse.

4. Violent Personal Assaults

Abuse does not have to be in a home or from a familiar face to cause PTSD. Many people develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a violent personal assault. This assault could include a mugging, robbery, rape or a similar event. If the person was in fear for their life or physical safety, it can easily lead to PTSD.

5. Terrorist Attacks

While it may not happen for everyone, many people who were at or near the World Trade Center on 9/11 suffered from flashbacks and nightmares. Some people also developed PTSD. Terrorist attacks are distressing, stressful events that can cause nightmares and PTSD symptoms to occur for years later.

While there may not be a cure for post-traumatic stress disorder, there are treatment options. With the right support, patients can begin the healing process. Depending on the patient's situation, they may be able to use a combination of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or other PTSD treatments to begin recovery.