Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is More Common Than We Think

We most often associate posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with soldiers in combat situations but PTSD can occur after any traumatic event.

A trauma is a shocking and dangerous event that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger.

Going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, if you were directly exposed to the trauma or injured, you are more likely to develop PTSD.

PTSD and Veterans

PTSD is a very common condition for many veterans after military service. Symptoms can include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress, difficulty sleeping, and changes in how a person thinks and feels. Research estimates that fully 30% of our combat veterans are suffering from some degree of PTSD.

PTSD and Cancer Survivors

20% of America’s 17 million cancer survivors also are dealing with PTSD.

It is normal for a person with cancer or a cancer survivor to have feelings of anxiety, such as worry, fear, and dread. But if these feelings do not go away over time, continue to get worse, or affect daily life, they could be a sign of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Avoiding places, events, people, or things that bring back bad memories
  • Strong feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or shame
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Continuous feelings of fear or anger
  • Loss of interest in activities and relationships that used to be enjoyable
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse
  • Frightening or unwanted thoughts
  • Difficulty feeling emotions

PTSD symptoms are different for each person and can come and go. The symptoms usually develop within 3 months of a traumatic event. But they can also occur several months or even years later. If you have any of these symptoms and they last more than a month, talk with your health care team.

People with cancer and cancer survivors who have PTSD need treatment because the disorder can keep them from getting needed tests, cancer treatments, or follow-up care. PTSD can also increase a person’s risk of developing other mental, physical, and social problems. These can include depression, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, and loss of relationships and employment.

Click the image below to download a pamphlet on PTSD symptoms and treatment.

booklet on understanding PTSD

Research shows that aerobic exercise significantly reduces depression symptoms and helps prevent the abuse of drugs.  the high rates of physical impairment in returning soldiers complicates the optimistic picture of exercise’s benefits on PTSD.

Strenuous physical exercise and milder forms of exercise are helpful in reducing PTSD symptoms.

The Cancer Journeys Foundation is delighted to announce the creation of a cycling program to provide PTSD sufferers. The initial events will be held in southern California with a nationwide program in development.

Check our Events tab for dates and locations or complete the form below to join the event mailing list.

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