Most people in our society don’t fully understand trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—how it happens, why it happens and how it’s treated. Because of this lack of understanding there are many myths about trauma. Let’s take a closer look at some trauma and PTSD myths, and get to the truth of things:
Myth #1: If I experience a traumatic event I will develop PTSD.
Truth: Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, but they may experience other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It can be dangerous to jump to the conclusion that you have PTSD simply because you’ve experienced one or more traumatic events. It’s better to work with a counselor to diagnose and treat any mental health issues you’ve developed due to trauma.
Myth #2: I’m too strong to develop PTSD, I can take anything.
Truth: Both strong and so-called weak people develop PTSD. Strength has nothing to do with post-traumatic stress disorder. The development of PTSD after a traumatic event is influenced by many factors, including the intensity and frequency of trauma you experienced, your mental health at the time of the traumatic event, your social support network, and your existing coping skills. Each individual is different. It’s important that you not depend on your strength to help you overcome PTSD or other mental health issues related to trauma; speak with a trauma counselor instead. A counselor can help you develop the tools necessary to cope.
Myth #3: Time heals all wounds.
Truth: Trauma can impact your mental health immediately after an event, but also twenty (or more) years down the road. That’s why many people who’ve experienced trauma during childhood find that they need to seek the help of a counselor well into middle-age. So, don’t overestimate the ability of time to heal. Just as you wouldn’t leave a broken arm to heal on its own, you shouldn’t leave your emotional and psychological wounds to heal through the passage of time. Even if you’ve avoided seeking therapy for depression, anxiety, PTSD or other mental health issues related to trauma, it’s never too late to get the counseling you need. Working with a trauma counselor can help you heal and improve the quality of your life.
Myth #4: Since I don’t remember the traumatic event it’s not affecting me.
Truth: Whether you consciously remember a traumatic event or not doesn’t minimize its impact on your mental health and well-being. Oftentimes your body may respond to traumatic events stored in your subconscious. For example, someone who has been sexually assaulted may have an intense fear of going anywhere alone, even if they can’t remember the assault. By working with a trauma counselor you can still heal. A counselor can help you connect with the feelings that result from trauma and move you along in your recovery.