PTSD Doesn’t Just Happen to Combat Veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with military service, and the condition is often traced back to World War I veterans who experienced “shell shock.” As knowledge of the condition has increased, however, PTSD has become the preferred term — and it’s become evident that military action isn’t the only traumatic event that causes the condition. Many people who have never served in the armed forces suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Any Traumatic Experience Can Lead to PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a response to a traumatic event, and almost any traumatizing event can lead to PTSD. Some examples of non-military events that can lead to PTSD include:

  • Sexual assault or abuse
  • Physical assault or abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Major accidents or injuries
  • Terrorist attacks

Because PTSD can be brought on by almost any traumatic event, many people suffer from the condition. In the United States, some 8 million people are living with PTSD.

How To Know If You Have PTSD

PTSD has been extensively studied and is now well-understood by the medical community. Because of the extensive research and clinical treatment that has accumulated since World War I, diagnosing the condition is clearly defined.

You may have PTSD if you experience all of the following symptoms:

  • Minimum one re-experiencing symptom (e.g. flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts)
  • Minimum one avoidance symptom (e.g. avoiding certain thoughts, feelings, places, objects or events)
  • Minimum two arousal or reactivity symptoms (e.g. being easily startled, feeling tenseness, having difficulty sleeping or experiencing angry outbursts)
  • Minimum two cognition or mood symptoms (e.g. having difficulty remembering details of the experience, experiencing negative thoughts, experiencing distorted feelings or losing interest in activities)

Should you meet all four criteria, there is a strong probability that you are experiencing PTSD. A qualified medical professional can make an official diagnosis.

What To Do If You Suffer From PTSD

PTSD that’s caused by a non-military incident can be just as severe as combat-induced PTSD, but there is good news for everyone who suffers from the condition. All cases of PTSD are treatable, and there is help no matter what caused the condition or how severe symptoms are.

If you’re experiencing PTSD, the best course of action is to seek treatment from a medical professional who’s familiar with this specific condition. Depending on the specifics of a case, a professional may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Developing skills to cope with the PTSD-induced symptoms
  • Reevaluating thoughts about yourself, other people and the world at large
  • Addressing other issues (e.g. depression, anxiety, or alcohol or drug misuse)

In many cases, treatment involves a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive therapy, exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (exposure therapy with eye movements) can be helpful. The medications used usually include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

The earlier treatment can begin after an event, the faster and easier the path forward will be. It is never too late to begin treatment, however.

Call Jonas Hill Hospital for Help

For help recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, contact us at Jonas Hill Hospital. You can reach us at (828) 394-6722, and one of our team members will be happy to assist you. We’ve worked with many people who suffer from PTSD, and we’ll listen carefully when you come. With our help, there is hope for a less frightful future.


Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact Jonas Hill Hospital and Clinic today at (828) 394-6722 for more information.