Stress Management > PTSD > Causes of PTSD

Causes of PTSD

The cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involves being exposed to an event or situation that involves threatened or actual death, serious injury or a threat of some kind to the physical integrity of one's self or others.

A person could witness either personally or hear about the situation second hand PTSD would normally be diagnosed if the subjective response to the traumatic experience or event includes feelings of helplessness, intense fear and avoidance of anything that reminds them of the event along with other symptoms for at least one month after the event.

Traumatic events that are most common causes of post traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, extreme flooding, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, tornados or fires
  • Serious accidents, such as road accidents and aeroplane crashes, PTSD could result from either experiencing or witnessing life-threatening accidents
  • Violent crimes PTSD could result from both experienced or witnessed crimes
  • Combat experiences

It is accepted that as the severity or threat to a person's physical integrity increases, so does the likelihood of a PTSD diagnosis. However, individual risk factors determine where the severity threshold is for each person and will influence whether or not they will be able to come to terms with their experience.

After a traumatic experience the chance of developing PTSD decreases as time goes by, it is understood that almost everyone who witnesses or is directly involved in a traumatic event from being subjected to abuse to a car crash or front line combat, they will experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Many of the symptoms will subside as time passes however for approximately 10 percent of those subjected to a traumatic experience PTSD will remain and a clinical diagnosis will be made.