Many people are under the false impression that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can only manifest under the most extreme circumstances. They perhaps only connect PTSD to people that have experienced extreme combat, have gone through the most serious natural disasters, or have undergone prolonged domestic and/or sexual abuse. Yes, of course, these situations are prime examples of what may cause PTSD. However, it is necessary to understand that PTSD can arise out of any instance of trauma, which may not seem “extreme” to others but can have a devastating impact on the individual.
Gaining a Better Understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.” To further put that into perspective, that is roughly 20 million people in the U.S. that have been or will be affected by PTSD.
A publication titled Posttraumatic Stress Disorder by Sukhmanjeet Kaur Mann and Raman Marwaha explains, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling psychiatric disorder that results from being exposed to real or threatened injury, death, and sexual assault.” Notice how the authors do not define the severity of the exposure when describing PTSD. This is because trauma is personal and relative to the individual. However, while experiences of PTSD are personal, nearly everyone who develops it progresses similarly through the stages of PTSD.
The Five Stages of PTSD
The realm of mental illness, treatment, and recovery is filled with various stages. Certainly, there are broader stages of mental illness. There are also specific stages for different types of illnesses. Similarly, there are stages of recovery.
Thus, it is not surprising or unusual that PTSD also has stages. More specifically, there are five stages of PTSD (though it is important to note that while the existence of “five stages” has the most professional consensus, some feel that there are fewer and/or more). These stages include the impact stage, the denial stage, the repetitive stage, the short-term recovery stage, and the long-term recovery stage.
#1. The Impact Stage
This stage of PTSD is the impact stage, which refers to the time right after the traumatic event occurs. Here, an individual begins the process of understanding what they have experienced.
The impact stage is also when an individual begins to manifest the negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are often associated with PTSD. Seeking professional help at this stage can greatly help an individual cope with their experience before the more problematic symptoms of PTSD appear.
#2. The Denial Stage
This stage of PTSD is for the most part exactly what it sounds like, though it is certainly more complex than simply denying that an experience happened. Here, an individual will begin to attempt to numb their feelings through their denial.
Getting help at this stage can prevent more serious issues from arising as a result of “burying feelings of trauma inside.” Eventually, these feelings can resurface and be more difficult to treat after more time has passed.
#3. The Repetitive Stage
This stage, also known as the “rescue stage,” is the first stage in which some healing can start to take place.
During the repetitive stage, an individual may “relive” their trauma by visiting the place it occurred. Getting help during this stage allows for the individual struggling to go through this process with a professional that can support and guide them when their emotions become difficult to handle.
#4. The Short-Term Recovery Stage of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This short-term recovery stage is the first of the real “recovery stages” of PTSD. Here, an individual is wholly ready to accept help.
At this point, a recovery plan can be created that can help an individual start to manage and mitigate their trauma. Also, making sure that the recovery plan is customized to the individual can be crucial here.
#5. The Long-Term Recovery Stage of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Now, the last stage is the long-term recovery stage, and it does not simply mean that a person is “cured” of PTSD. The long-term recovery stage is where the initial treatment has been completed and an individual now can cope with the emotions that their trauma may bring up.
This is a critical stage because it is the stage that an individual with PTSD must utilize as they continue to navigate their lives. However, this does not mean that a person is constantly thinking about being in recovery. Rather, it means that they have developed the tools to go about their lives while managing their PTSD on an almost autonomic level.
The Recovery Mission at the Phoenix Recovery Center
At the Phoenix Recovery Center, we are proud to have helped countless clients get to the long-term recovery stage of their PTSD. We also know that the tools and techniques we have given our clients will keep them on the positive path of that recovery.
At the Phoenix Recovery Center, we like to say that we don’t just give our clients their lives back. We also give them the ability to celebrate their lives long after they have gotten their lives back.
If you feel like you or a loved one has endured trauma and/or is struggling with PTSD, please know that you are not alone. We can help. For more information on PTSD and some of the best treatment options for it, please contact The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.