I recently came to realize something which happened almost 10 years back, which I didn't realized then, but upon recollecting the past events I went in to PTSD. But the persons who where involved in that incident didn't consider it to be a big issue.

So my questions are, How long after the incident will PTSD happen?

And what incidents can be categorized as an traumatic incident ?

What situations might cause a PTSD for a person ?


1 Answer 1


In the clinical definition, PTSD is a psychological disorder that develops in some people after a trauma. Interestingly, not every traumatized person develops chronic (ongoing) or acute (short-term) PTSD, nor has every person who develops PTSD gone through a dangerous event. The 'trauma' in the name can refer to events as diverse as hearing about a traumatic event from another person or seeing it on TV, or the death of a loved one (even if you weren't there).

The most important parts of diagnosing any mental illness are (a) is it causing suffering (either to the patient or other people), (b) it is statistically significant (is it unusual for the culture of the patient).

In the case of PTSD, it is enough that they are suffering for the clinician to look further.

PTSD usually occurs within 3 months of the incident, but some people develop symptoms after more than a year. Most people recover within 6 months, but others have long-term chronic symptoms.

To be diagnosed, a patient must have a constellation of varied symptoms. The ICD-10 and the DSM-5 describe the most common diagnostic criteria used today.

The best plan for a clinician is generally to develop a holistic outlook that takes into account the dynamics of the patient's case rather than to try to pigeonhole the patient into diagnostic criteria. Someone who experienced a traumatic event and has residual anxiety and depression may or may not be diagnostic with PTSD. PTSD, under the DSM-5 criteria, must include one re-experiencing symptom, one avoidance symptom, two arousal and reactivity symptoms, and two cognition and mood symptoms.

Since the treatment most commonly indicated for PTSD is anti-depressants/sleep aids and psychotherapy, which are also the treatments for many other mental illnesses, the particular diagnosis is less important than the welfare of the patient. PTSD patients can also benefit from exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring.

The US National Institute of Mental Health has a good introductory article on the subject.

  • $\begingroup$ There is a slight correction which I feel needs to be made to your answer to fall in line with generally accepted statistics and the NIMH article you linked. You said that most people recover within 6 months. That is not quite correct and the NIMH article lays it out more accurately by stating that some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers, while you are correct in what the NIMH article states, most people with PTSD recover within 6 months to a year (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56506). On the other hand, almost 20% of people contacted 13-14 years after a deadly flood in China still experienced PTSD symptoms (bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/…). There is significant variance in response and recovery, which is one of the reasons resilience is such a big area of research right now. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Can you tell me which section and paragraph of the huge nih document you linked states that most people recover within 6 months to a year. I have skimmed through and couldn't find anything, plus doing a text search through the document for '6 months' returns nothing on my computer. The point you made about resilience being a big area of research is a very valid point, although as a personal opinion, you can be extremely resilient in most situations but can still be mentally scarred for an extremely long time through certain traumas. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers: if I may butt in, 2nd para in 2.1.3 probably: "Whereas a high proportion of trauma survivors will initially develop symptoms of PTSD, a substantial proportion of these individuals recover without treatment in the following years, with a steep decline in PTSD rates occurring in the first year (e.g. Breslau et al, 1991; Kessler et al, 1995). On the other hand, at least a third of the individuals who initially develop PTSD remain symptomatic for 3 years or longer, and are at risk of secondary problems such as substance misuse (e.g. Kessler et al, 1995)." $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 16:48

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