There are many common causes of PTSD. Going through a major traumatic event often creates feelings of fear, helplessness, guilt, shame and anger. These feelings sometimes go away on their own after a few days or weeks, but occasionally they continue and may also progress in severity.  If these emotions last for a month or more, and occur following a traumatic event, which is a common causes of PTSD, you may have develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The most common causes of PTSD are due to experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event such as military combat, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and physical or sexual assault as an adult or in childhood.  While most people will experience a life threatening event, most do not develop PTSD.  However, PTSD affects more than eight million American adults. 

Common Causes of PTSD

  • Those who have been a crime victim of or witness to a life-threatening or traumatic event such as violent acts, domestic violence, rape, sexual, physical and/or verbal abuse.
  • Survivors of experiences such as a major car accident, terrorism, or natural disaster.
  • Civilians or veterans exposed to warfare.
  • Those who experience an unexpected and sudden death of a friend or relative.
  • Emergency responders who rescue people during traumatic events or natural disasters.
  • Children who suffer from neglect and/or physical, sexual or verbal abuse are at increase risk for PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD symptoms usually become noticeable shortly after the traumatic event. Sometimes, however, they don’t become a problem until several years later. In these cases, the causes of PTSD may be more difficult to uncover.  Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Thinking about the trauma frequently, with thoughts coming to mind at unexpected and inopportune moments, even when you try to suppress them.
  • You may become upset at reminders about the trauma and try to avoid people, places and things associated with the traumatic event.
  • You may experience flashbacks to the event and feel like you are re-living parts of the trauma over and over.
  • Sleep disturbance, such as nightmares, troubles going or staying asleep..
  • Feeling more defensive or in alert mode, becoming easily startled, irritable or anxious.  You may become preoccupied with personal safety and find it difficult to focus or sleep.  Physical problems like rapid breathing, muscle tension rapid heart rate, or bowel irregularities may occur as well.
  • You may begin to feel emotionally numb and introverted, not wanting to talk to anyone about the event, or even be around people or places that trigger memories of the event.
  • You may feel detached from family and friends and lose interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Experiencing panic attacks, which spark feelings of intense fear, shortness of breath, dizziness, racing heart, nausea, and sweating.
  • Physical problems like chronic pain, muscle cramps, chest burning or tightness, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, or low back pain.
  • Losing trust in people and believing the world to be a dangerous place.
  • Problems with daily activities including difficulty functioning in the workplace, in school, or in social situations.
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with emotional distress.
  • Problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from friends and family.
  • Feeling depressed with symptoms of sadness, anxiety, or empty mood; loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy; feelings of shame and guilt; and hopelessness about the future.
  • Thoughts of suicide.  If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call 911 immediately.

Treatment for PTSD

Support and therapy, which is critical for recovery, has proven to be highly successful in treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


It may be painful to face the trauma and memories, but with the help of a mental health professional, you can feel better. There are several different types of evidence based therapy used for PTSD.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you alter the irrational thoughts and beliefs that prevent you from coping with anxiety.
  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) teaches you to challenge your irrational beliefs and helps you understand your emotions about the event.
  • Exposure therapy helps you gradually confront the traumatic situations and memories that you experienced and are causing your distress and desensitizes you to these events, thereby reducing your symptoms.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps you to identify current triggers that cause you distress and are related to traumatic events.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is another form of exposure therapy that uses a distraction, like hand waving or tapping, to help your brain process the memories differently and reduce the negative feelings about them. By following the movements with your eyes, you are training your brain to see the memories in a different way.
  • Medication can also be helpful to treat PTSD symptoms.

Because our treatment center for PTSD relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from Post traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.