In the U.S. alone, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 3.5% of adults.
Many people think it’s something that only impacts those in the military, but that’s an old stereotype that simply isn’t true. While military members can be at risk if they’re in active combat, they certainly aren’t the only ones who can experience trauma and the issues that can come after it.
PTSD can stem from a variety of things. Some people experience it after being abused as a child—or adult. Others witness a traumatic event or go through something life-changing, themselves.
Whatever the case, the question remains for everyone: how long does PTSD last?
Unfortunately, the answer is a bit more complicated than most people realize.
Going Through the Stages
Chances are, you’ve heard of the stages of grief. But, there are also stages of PTSD that most people go through. There’s no ideal timeline for each stage because working through the effects of PTSD is something that can’t be rushed.
The stages include:
- Short-term recovery
- Long-term recovery/reconstruction
The goal for anyone dealing with PTSD is to get to the long-term recovery stage as soon as possible. But, again, it’s a process that can’t be rushed.
For some, symptoms of PTSD may not even appear until years after the event. That doesn’t mean the trauma wasn’t lingering inside. But it’s easy for the mind to block or repress such things as a defense mechanism.
So, unfortunately, it often takes experiencing and feeling the raw effects of PTSD to work through these stages.
How Long Will Symptoms Last?
This is a loaded question with a lot of factors and variables.
How long PTSD lasts depends greatly on how quickly you seek treatment.
For an official PTSD diagnosis, symptoms have to last for at least one month—and they’re usually not difficult to notice. It’s not uncommon for PTSD symptoms to negatively impact your career, your relationships, and almost everything else in your personal life. You certainly don’t need to wait for a month to seek help, but that is the typical “timeline” for a diagnosis.
From there, things get blurrier.
Some people are able to work through the effects of PTSD and recover within 6 months. For others, the symptoms can last for years.
In some cases, PTSD symptoms can become chronic. You might experience them regularly for no apparent reason. Or, they might hit you suddenly when you’re faced with certain situations/triggers.
Does PTSD Ever Go Away?
For some people, PTSD symptoms will fade over time. That makes things more manageable on a day-to-day basis.
For others, however, that isn’t the case. It’s impossible to determine who will experience less severe symptoms.
The best thing you can do if you’re experiencing PTSD symptoms is to seek professional help.
When PTSD isn’t treated, it lasts a very long time. Can it affect you for the remainder of your life? Absolutely. You might go through long stretches of time when your symptoms aren’t causing problems. But they often come back with a vengeance if you don’t know how to properly manage them.
Seeking treatment is incredibly important. A therapist can help you work through the root cause(s) of your PTSD. Exploring the emotions and somatic symptoms of trauma isn’t easy, but it’s often a necessary step in the healing process. From there, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and move past the trauma that occurred, so you don’t have to worry about PTSD lasting forever.
If you’re struggling with the effects of trauma, you’re not alone. Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment as soon as you’re ready
For more information about my services in Delray Beach, FL and Sandy Springs, GA, click here.