Youth Ambassador Series: Exploring Different Mental Health Disorders – PTSD

As part of NAMI Eastside’s Youth Ambassador program, Jinwoo “Antonio” Lee is exploring the eight different mental health disorders defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).


About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

By NAMI Eastside Youth Ambassador Jinwoo “Antonio” Lee

Have you lived through or observed such a traumatic event that you felt stressed after the event was over? According to the American Psychiatric Association, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as a “psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, which can be emotionally or physically harmful or life-threatening and may affect mental, physical, social, or spiritual well-being.” Why is PTSD a serious disorder? How can it be treated after one goes through a traumatic event?

What are the causes that can lead to PTSD? There is correlational research that associates genetic factors with PTSD, but traumatic events that people experience in their lives are the most common cause of PTSD. In fact, on average, 1 in 3 people who experience severe trauma can develop PTSD as a mental disorder. There are numerous experiences that one can encounter that might cause PTSD: physical assaults, unconscious childhood trauma, abuse, or serious accidents. More specifically, major events such as car accidents or losing someone in your life can be a cause of PTSD. Military combats, natural disasters, and traumatic events at work can lead to PTSD as well. In addition, some people who have had other mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can also have a higher risk of developing PTSD. 

Why can traumatic events develop into PTSD? The most common explanation for why traumatic events in life can affect people mentally is that it causes them to build on the physiological mechanisms to prepare for other traumatic events. The flashbacks of memory can keep people alert for other possible dangerous situations in the future. After undergoing those traumatic events, the body’s adrenal gland produces an excessive amount of adrenaline. Adrenaline causes a “flight or fight” response, and it can function in the future by being resilient because the hormone helps people relieve stress and pain.

What are the possible mental symptoms of PTSD? Traumatic events can cause emotional arousal and distress. It also leaves a strong memory in the brain and can cause long-term effects such as anxiety about recurrence in the future. Thus, people with PTSD can have hopelessness about the future and have negative emotions rather than positive emotions. Also, people who have PTSD tend to avoid the same place, time, or event in which they experienced the trauma. If it is severe, it can cause people to detach from social relationships and lose interest in other events in life.

How can people seek help to treat PTSD? If you want to talk about traumatic events to close friends and family, go ahead! It is important to share your feelings with others rather than thinking alone. Find the closest and most reliable people with whom you can get help. Additionally, if your experience of some traumatic events developed into mental problems that you believe could be related to PTSD, you should visit a psychiatrist or therapist. Several therapeutic treatments can help treat mental distress from traumatic events.