Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: All The Things That Donald Trump Apparently Doesn’t Know About PTSD

As reported by USA Today, Donald Trump made some highly controversial statements about posttraumatic stress disorder – PTSD – only weeks before he was shockingly elected as president of the United States. In these comments, Trump – while speaking to veterans – implied that only weak soldiers were affected by PTSD because they “can’t handle” the stresses of combat. This was an ironic statement coming from someone who got a draft deferment from Vietnam because of heel spurs.

Donald Trump at veterans rally.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health issue that is caused by an individual being exposed to a frightening or traumatizing event. It can be an event the individual experienced directly or one they simply witnessed. Those who have PTSD will often have their symptoms triggered days, months or years later by specific stimuli.

For many who have PTSD, it can disrupt their daily life, their employment, and even their health. Moreover, PTSD can also increase the chance of developing other related problems, such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and even suicidal tendencies.

But diagnosis and treatment of PTSD can quickly alleviate symptoms and improve the patient’s functionality. In addition to assisting the individual patient, addressing this problem is also of great significance to the community as a whole, since it will help to reduce the sometimes violent outbursts from these individuals.

As noted by, in addition to military combat or police duty, there are a wide range of other things that can also result in PTSD, from natural disasters and fires to car accidents, muggings, and terrorist attacks. The common factor in all of these traumatic events is the deep fear they engender. This fear is closely associated with the symptoms of PTSD.

The symptoms of PTSD can begin within a few weeks of the event, but frequently they will occur many months or even years afterward. They become most obvious in work environments, social situations, and personal relationships.

If untreated, symptoms of PTSD can grow more intense over time. Those suffering from this condition will often have more severe symptoms when they are stressed or when they encounter reminders of what they experienced.

For instance, a soldier or police officer hearing a car backfire may automatically react as though it’s weapons fire. Or individuals who have been the victim of a sexual assault and who see a news story about a similar incident may be overwhelmed by memories of their own assault.

PTSD can result from a number of different types of traumatic stress, including situations in which someone is killed, threatened with death, seriously injured or sexually assaulted. It is unclear why some people in reacting to such traumatic events develop PTSD and some do not, but Trump’s suggestion of weakness seems unlikely and insulting.

Fortunately, there are treatment options for those suffering from PTSD. The first-line treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy – often combined with medication. When combined, these treatments can reduce the patient’s symptoms.

In other situations, the psychologist may recommend a group therapy approach. One of the advantages of group therapy is that it can provide the PTSD sufferer with an opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing the same thing.

In virtually all cases, PTSD can be resolved with the right treatment regimen. Once this is accomplished, the patient will often see rapid improvement and a reduction or elimination of symptoms in a matter of weeks. This usually allows them – with continued monitoring – to return to their normal life, work and activities.

It is a sad truth that even in modern America, there is a reluctance on the part of many to acknowledge they have a mental health problem and to seek the help they need. Better public education efforts on this issue may help to ensure that those needing help actually get it. Donald Trump’s absurd statements about post-traumatic stress disorder only make it less likely that soldiers and others will seek the help they need.

[Featured Image by John Moore/Getty Images]