Experiencing or witnessing a trauma is often something that triggers the onset of a mental health condition.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most well-known trauma-based condition, though others exist. Moreover, trauma can also contribute to the development of other conditions like Depression or Substance Abuse.

All trauma-based conditions are difficult to live with, and require treatment to provide relief. In most cases, a full recovery is possible. Here, we take a look at the prognosis of trauma-based conditions.

With the right treatment, full recovery is possible

What is PTSD & Trauma?

PTSD & Trauma-based conditions: PTSD and Trauma-based conditions refer to the various conditions that involve traumatic events or memories. They develop due to being involved in or seeing a distressing or frightening event. Whilst Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best-known condition in this area, other conditions exist too. These conditions can have a marked impact on an individual’s life. But with the right treatment, recovery is possible.

The different types of PTSD & Trauma

As mentioned in the introduction, there are other trauma-based conditions aside from PTSD. This impacts the prognosis:

Acute Stress Disorder features similar symptoms, albeit with the condition characterised by symptoms not being present for longer than a month. Adjustment Disorder typically only lasts six months at maximum. Both of these are dependent on successful treatment.

Otherwise, they may turn into PTSD. Long-term trauma can result in Complex PTSD developing. But in general, the prognosis for these conditions is good. PTSD’s prognosis however depends on a wide array of factors.

Important factors in treatment

There are several factors that impact the success levels of treatment for these conditions.

It appears that treatment should start as soon as possible after a traumatic event. A complication of this is that symptoms of PTSD don’t always occur straight after the event. But in any case, accessing treatment early on certainly helps.

As with all other mental health conditions, the earlier treatment is sought, the higher the likelihood of recovery.

Committing to treatment is a very important factor. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, it is common for an individual to withdraw from all of their commitments, not want to see anyone, and engage in any behaviour – however risky – that results in some sort of high.

But for maximum chance of recovery, the individual involved needs to instigate treatment. They need to believe they can get better, and not let their trauma beat them. This can be difficult, but is achievable.

Combining medication and therapy

A combination of talking therapy and medication can often prove very helpful. Antidepressants can provide relief and lessen the severity of the symptoms of these conditions.

This should help to increase energy, lessen the number and intensity of flashbacks and nightmares, and reduce symptoms of withdrawal.

There are several different classes of antidepressants to try, if needed. There are many different talking therapies too – which should lead to an individual being able to discuss their traumatic experience.

With the help of a trained therapist, an individual should be able to come to terms and process the event in a healthy way.

Antidepressants – the primary medication for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions – can take some time to work. But they often provide an individual with some relief.

After recovery, an individual will commonly continue to take the medication for a few more months – a measure which lessens the chances of relapse.

Problems with prognosis

But the prognosis isn’t all good. One issue with PTSD is its high comorbidity rate with other psychiatric disorders [1]. For example, PTSD often co-exists alongside Depression, Anxiety, Dissociative Disorders, or within reason, anything else.

Therefore, having to cope with multiple disorders at once can prove very difficult, and lengthen recovery time, and making it much more difficult.

The worst part of PTSD and other trauma-related conditions are its relationship with suicide. Suicide rates are often high in PTSD – which is worrying.

To put this into context, it has been reported that around 25% of people who are diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives will go on to attempt suicide [2].

Areas like loneliness, anxiety and low mood can all contribute to heightening this risk. This makes accessing treatment very important. There is no doubting the debilitating effect trauma has on someone.

Having a support system

Another factor that isn’t discussed much is the support system that a person has. This is a key factor in the prognosis of trauma-based conditions.

These conditions are very difficult to cope with, but family members and friends can provide support and understanding.

Family members can help by regularly checking with the individual as to their wellbeing, supporting them through their symptoms, and assisting them in any way possible.

Summary

PTSD and other trauma conditions have the potential to cause life-long distress. But crucially, treatment is available.

Generally, the prognosis is very good, but there are still far too many cases that show treatment still has a long way to go in order to help everyone.

The combination of therapy and medication can lead to recovery. It can take time, but it is possible. Help is out there, and there is always, always hope.

See Also

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Helplines

If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.

References

[1]          Sareen, J. (2014). posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adults: Impact, Comorbidity, Risk Factors, and Treatment. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 59 (9): p460-467. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F070674371405900902.

[2]          Eapen, B. C., & Cifu, D. X. (2021). Brain Injury Medicine: Board Review. Philadelphia: Elsevier. p268.