Home > Health Library > PTSD Myths
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental
health disorder. Many people believe things about mental health disorders that
aren't true. Here are some myths about PTSD.
PTSD does exist. It is a recognized mental health problem that has
been studied for many years. You may get PTSD if you have lived through a
traumatic event that caused you to fear for your life, see horrible things, and
feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain
that may result in PTSD.footnote 1
PTSD has not always had the same name. It also has been called
combat fatigue or shell shock.
Anyone who sees or goes through a traumatic event can develop PTSD.
A traumatic event is a horrible and scary experience. During this type of
event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger. You feel that
you have no control over what is happening. These events include violent
crimes, sexual assaults, childhood neglect or abuse, and natural disasters such as hurricanes or
earthquakes. Your job also could expose you to traumatic events. First
responders at a traumatic event, such as firefighters and police, can develop
The strong emotions you may feel during the traumatic event can
create changes in your brain that result in PTSD.footnote 1 You
may not be able to "move on" because of this. It's important to remember that
PTSD is a medical condition. People with other health conditions, such as
cancer, deal with the condition as best they can. The same is true for PTSD.
PTSD symptoms can develop at any time after a traumatic event. Your
symptoms may start soon after the event, or you may not have them until months
or years later. They may come and go over many years.
PTSD can cause severe symptoms, but counseling, medicines, and
support all help people adjust. People with PTSD have jobs and relationships.
They enjoy life and are active members of their communities.
Hollander E, Simeon D (2008). Anxiety disorders. In RE Hales et al., eds., The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th ed., pp. 565–607. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
I Want To...
Join Our Social Network