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For many men, it is often the case that they will undergo a traumatic experience and subsequently fail to realize the lasting effects the event had on them. However, if left untreated, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inevitably impacts one’s peace of mind, daily routines and overall lifestyles. 

What is PTSD? 

PTSD is the mental, sometimes physical, response to a highly distressing, disturbing or dangerous event. The traumatic event might have been an isolated incident, such as an act of terrorism, violence or an accident of some kind. It might have been frequent, repeated exposure to a chronic stressor, such as domestic violence or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. 

Trauma impedes one’s ability to cope with the reality of the event and feel a full range of emotions. Those who have experienced trauma may feel helplessness, guilt, shame and/or a negative sense of self. 

Simply, trauma shakes the foundation of one’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual stability.

PTSD and men: the statistics 

Men experience traumatic situations differently than women, and typically more often. According to the National Institute on Mental Health’s findings on PTSD, 50 percent of women, for example, are reported to face trauma in their lifetime, whereas 60 percent of men will face a traumatic event. Of these numbers, however, only two percent of men will develop PTSD, whereas the number for women is doubled

Additionally, men are more likely to experience trauma at an older age, whereas the age of exposure for women is much lower. Women are more prone to being the victims of sexual assault and abuse at a young age. On the other hand, because men are more likely to enlist and experience active combat, or work in a high-risk workplace, their exposure to traumatic events might not come until an older age. 

Symptoms of PTSD in men 

The list of trauma symptoms does not discriminate between men and women. Because trauma is a unique experience for each individual; meaning two people could experience the same trauma and show different symptoms, there exists no comprehensive list of what signs men battling PTSD will experience. That being said, there are some ways in which men are more likely to respond to the trauma. 

First, take a look at the common symptoms of PTSD as broken down in cognitive, physical, behavioral and emotional responses: 

Cognitive

  • Intrusive thoughts 
  • Flashbacks (different from intrusive thoughts in that flashbacks make the person feel that they’re undergoing the event all over again)
  • Trouble focusing
  • Trouble remembering the event 
  • Nightmares
  • Intense emotional distress in response to a trigger
  • An overwhelming sense of fear

Physical

  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Constant exhaustion and fatigue
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Edginess, startling easily

Behavioral

  • Easily irritated or quick to lash out
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior 
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drug or alcohol abuse
  • Keeping busy to avoid thoughts of memories the trauma
  • Avoiding the people/places/things that trigger memories of the event
  • Losing of interest in social events and old hobbies or activities

Emotional

  • Shame or guilt
  • Anger or irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional shock
  • Difficulty feeling positive emotions
  • Numbness

Although research is still being conducted regarding the different ways PTSD affects men and women, it has been observed that of these common PTSD symptoms, men are more likely to show outward signs of anger and irritability. They might find it more difficult to control their emotions, and are more likely to turn to substance abuse as a method of coping with these untethered or foreign emotions. 

Treatment options for PTSD 

If you recognize a potentially traumatic event in your history and have subsequently experienced symptoms of PTSD, it might be worth considering PTSD treatment options. Unfortunately, PTSD is not something that will go away on its own; in fact, the chances of it growing worse are greater the longer it is left unaddressed. 

While it might be intimidating or humbling to reach out for help, PTSD treatment offers freedom and relief. Even though mental health professionals cannot wipe the traumatic event from your past, as much as they would like to, they can provide you with tools you can use to cope with symptoms like flashbacks or emotional outbreaks in healthy ways. 

Trauma therapists have been trained to approach each case as a unique situation. By using methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and group therapy, individuals will progress through a personalized, holistic treatment plan written out to address their personal needs and goals.

To speak with a trauma-informed therapist today about PTSD treatment options, contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare at 678-274-4936.

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