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Understanding Long-Term Effects of PTSD

person sits at the edge of their bed looking out their window thinking about the long-term effects of ptsd

The National Center for PTSD estimates that up to 6% of the United States population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Many people still see it as a condition that only affects veterans, but anyone can struggle with it. Understanding the long-term effects of PTSD is crucial for creating empathy and providing support to those who are living with it. At Evoke Wellness at Waltham, we offer a PTSD treatment program—call us at 866.276.1920 to get the help that you or a loved one needs.

Effects of Trauma: What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that develops in certain people who witness or experience a traumatic event or set of circumstances.

A traumatic event is anything severely threatening your sense of safety or your existence. It could be a single event, or it could be long-term trauma, like living through abuse or war.

The trauma could occur even if you’re a witness rather than the victim. It’s also possible to develop PTSD if you learn that a traumatic event happened to a loved one.

Common Signs of PTSD

Some of the most common signs of this condition include:

  • Having intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares
  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  • Feeling detached from others
  • Ongoing fear, guilt, shame, or horror
  • Memory loss
  • No longer enjoying favorite activities
  • Being unable to experience positive emotions
  • Being easily startled
  • Displaying self-destructive or reckless behavior
  • Having problems concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Being overly watchful of your surroundings

Anyone can develop PTSD, but it’s more common in people who have experienced childhood trauma, sexual assault, and military combat and those who have gone through long-term or repeated trauma. It’s also more common in people who have other mental health conditions.

Long-Term Effects of PTSD: How Trauma Can Keep Causing Harm

PTSD can cause symptoms so powerful and distressing that people turn to substances like drugs and alcohol to navigate their days. This opens the door to struggling with substance abuse.

Social withdrawal is another of the most common long-term effects of PTSD. People with PTSD tend to isolate themselves, even from their loved ones. This can be a result of the feelings of helplessness they experience.

Some also feel unsafe around new people, so they may avoid interacting with those they don’t know. For others, isolating can mean avoiding the triggers that lead to such powerful symptoms.

The effects of trauma can change your brain’s structure, too. Long-term PTSD may lead to developing an overactive amygdala, which is the area of the brain that processes emotions and links them to your memories.

At the same time, your prefrontal cortex can become less active. It helps with cognitive function. Combined, this means that your amygdala is overreacting to perceived dangers, and your prefrontal cortex isn’t assessing those threats as it needs to.

PTSD can also affect your immune system in the long run. It can increase inflammatory markers, leading to more inflammation in the body and the potential to develop chronic pain issues as well as autoimmune problems like psoriasis or multiple sclerosis.

High blood pressure issues could be a concern for people who have PTSD. When something triggers the fight-or-flight response, your breathing increases, and your blood pressure rises. If you remain in this state for long, your blood pressure has a hard time stabilizing. This could lead to cardiovascular issues and a higher risk of stroke.

Call Evoke Wellness at Waltham to Begin Your PTSD Treatment

PTSD can be a debilitating condition that makes dealing with daily life a struggle. To manage the symptoms and better regulate how you respond to triggers, getting help from professionals is vital. At Evoke Wellness at Waltham, we offer PTSD treatment programs to help you. We understand the challenges of living with mental health conditions and addiction. Our compassionate and evidence-based approach to treatment can provide you or your loved one with the support and resources needed for long-term recovery. Call us at 866.276.1920 or contact us online to learn more about our programs and how we can help you toward healing.