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How Long Can It Take For PTSD To Develop?

You survived a traumatic experience, and now, after several months, you’ve suddenly begun having trouble sleeping, eating, and your personal relationships are sputtering out of control. What’s going on? There could be an undiagnosed medical problem, or you may be experiencing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Fortunately, treatment can help.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

If you survive a trauma, you could have short-term problems adjusting and managing but will likely get better over time with self-care. Worsening symptoms lasting months or years and interfering with daily life could mean you have PTSD.

Risk Factors

  • Suffering extreme or long-lasting trauma
  • You faced other trauma when you were younger, such as childhood abuse
  • Your job may boost the chances of your exposure to traumatic events, like military personnel or first responders
  • There’s a personal or family history of mental health problems, like anxiety or depression
  • Substance misuse, like drug use or drinking too much
  • You don’t have a good social support system
  • You’re female – women get PTSD more often than men

How Do You Recover From PTSD?

If you have PTSD, there are other ways you can begin to recover besides therapy, including:

  • Stick with your treatment plan, including going to all therapy as scheduled and taking any medication as prescribed.
  • Educate yourself about PTSD and search for local and online sources. You may learn coping strategies to help you manage your symptoms effectively.
  • Maintain your health by getting enough rest, exercising, taking time to relax, and eliminating or reducing caffeine and tobacco intake.
  • Avoid self-medication with drugs, alcohol, or any medication not prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Disrupt symptoms when they happen by taking a walk, listening to a podcast, or doing anything else that allows you to re-focus.
  • Re-engage with family, friends, and any social groups in your community. 
  • Think of joining a support group. Ask your healthcare provider for help locating a group or contact a local or national veterans’ organization for information.

How Long Can It Take For PTSD To Develop?

Almost everyone who’s been traumatized experiences symptoms that don’t last very long, but most people don’t get chronic or long-term PTSD. Not everyone who experiences PTSD has lived through a scary event. Some events you wouldn’t think of, like the abrupt, unexpected death of someone you’re close to, can also trigger PTSD. Symptoms typically begin early, likely within three months of what happened, but sometimes they might not surface until years later. For clinical diagnosis, symptoms must persist greater than a month and be serious enough to impede relationships, work, or other facets of your life, to be confirmed with PTSD. The progress of the illness fluctuates. Some of us recover within six months, while others suffer from symptoms that linger much longer. Unfortunately, the condition becomes chronic for some people.

What Are The Symptoms?

  • Re-experiencing: flashbacks, frightening thoughts, nightmares.
  • Avoidance: Staying away from places, people or things that remind you of what happened.
  • Arousal: being easily startled, tension, trouble sleeping, or anger outbursts.

What Sort Of Trauma Causes PTSD?

There is no single cause for post-traumatic stress disorder, but decades of research have identified the kinds of trauma which may trigger it. The most common events that can lead to PTSD include:

  • Warfare exposure
  • Violence
  • Physical assault
  • Firearm threat
  • You survived an accident

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing PTSD – or any mental illness – is never easy because symptoms often overlap and are different for each person. A medical doctor or mental healthcare professional who specializes in PTSD or anxiety disorders is best able to diagnose your illness. You may undergo a physical examination to discover or rule out an underlying medical condition or have to see a mental health specialist for further diagnosis. In either case, the goal is to find a cause for your symptoms, either a medical or psychiatric reason.

After diagnosis, you may find relief with treatments like psychotherapy, self-help, medicine, or newer therapy like ketamine.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from PTSD, symptoms may develop within three months of trauma, or could even take years to become full-blown. In either case, they shouldn’t be ignored. Contact us today to learn more about our ketamine treatments for PSTD.