Those serving in the military are at an alarmingly high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, the U.S. Defense Medical Surveillance System (DMSS) reports that in 2013, approximately 12,632 of those deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn were diagnosed with PTSD.
Because military personnel are so frequently afflicted with PTSD, many people believe that the disorder is exclusive to the military. However, this is certainly not the case. PTSD can affect any person who has experienced some sort of trauma. Some common non-military causes of PTSD include violent crime, terrorism, natural disaster, transportation accidents, medical illness and personal loss.
Violent Crimes and Terrorism
Violent crime is one of the most common causes of PTSD. These crimes include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Victims or observers of these crimes often struggle to move past their trauma, and end up developing PTSD.
The same is true for those who experience terrorism in any form. For example, New York citizens and first-responders were at a high risk of developing PTSD following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Trauma may also occur as a result of natural disasters, such as tornados, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires and landslides. After the initial shock of these tragedies, victims of natural disaster must then work through any losses that may have occurred.
Many of these individuals lose their homes, physical belongings, pets and even loved ones to these devastating events. Such sudden and unexpected changes leave victims with PTSD. Unfortunately, PTSD might affect such a large population following a natural disaster that it can be difficult to reach out and provide the needed care for every suffering person.
Those who experience any form of transportation accident are at risk of developing PTSD. This is largely due to the sudden, life-threatening experience that typically occurs with a motor vehicle accident, plane crash, or train wreck.
After being involved in such an accident, these individuals may find that they relive the experience through flash-backs or nightmares. The symptoms of PTSD can greatly interfere with daily life, and may prevent some from utilizing the involved transportation until they have been treated for their PTSD.
Medical Illness or Personal Loss
Though many people disregard these two forms of trauma, medical illness and personal loss can both lead to the development of PTSD. A heart attack, for example, can be a traumatic and frightening event for the individual involved. In the same way, being diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness like cancer can be deeply traumatizing to the affected individual and even to that person’s loved ones.
Losing a loved one to illness or any other cause is another possible cause of PTSD. While most people are able to work through their grief when a loved one passes away, some people experience long-lasting PTSD. This may even occur with the death of a pet if a person has a particularly strong attachment.