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Unlike Other Mental Illnesses, No One is Born with PTSD

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

There is a biological component to many mental illnesses. If your parents or a sibling has them, you are more likely to have them as well. Your genetics can play a role in inheriting certain mental illnesses.

The illnesses that are most likely to have a genetic component include autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

Other mental illnesses like Anxiety and Depression can have a biological component as well. This means, when you are born, you can be genetically predisposed to having these conditions develop during your lifetime.

However, PTSD is not a genetic disorder. People who have PTSD have all experienced a traumatic event, or multiple traumatic events, throughout their lifetime. PTSD develops as a neurological coping mechanism to the trauma that these individuals have experienced.

According to Mind, some types of experiences that can lead to developing PTSD include:

  • being involved in a car crash

  • being raped or sexually assaulted

  • being abused, harassed or bullied - including racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, and other types of abuse targeting your identity

  • being kidnapped, held hostage or any event in which you fear for your life

  • experiencing violence, including military combat, a terrorist attack, or any violent assault

  • seeing other people hurt or killed, including in the course of your job (sometimes called secondary trauma)

  • doing a job where you repeatedly see or hear distressing things, such as working in the emergency services or armed forces

  • surviving a natural disaster, such as flooding, earthquakes or pandemics, such as the coronavirus pandemic

  • traumatic childbirth as a mother, or as a partner witnessing a traumatic birth

  • losing someone close to you in particularly upsetting circumstances

  • being sectioned or getting treatment in a mental health ward

  • being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.

Since experiencing PTSD typically happens when you have been in a life-threatening situation or witnessed violence, that means that the situation is the cause or trigger for the condition.

Although some people may be more likely to develop PTSD than others, if they don't experience a trauma, then they won't develop the disorder. That means, creating a safer society, less fraught with violence, can lead to a reduction in PTSD diagnoses.

Individuals aren't responsible for the events that happen to them. In many cases, they are innocent victims of violent crimes, or violent accidents. Investing in crime prevention would help to prevent many instances of PTSD. This would not prevent cases resulting from accidents however, so there would still be some instances of individuals having PTSD.

Mental Illness is never a choice

Whether mental illness results from biological or environmental causes, it is not someone's fault that they have a mental illness. It is a psychological reaction in the brain, not a pattern of behavior that an individual has chosen. This means, it is important not to blame people for becoming mentally ill.

There is a stigma in society that people develop mental illness because they are weak, or because they aren't trying hard enough to overcome their circumstances. People with mental illness do have to work very hard every day to cope with their conditions.

We need to have more compassion in our society for mental illness, and for people who are suffering from these often debilitating conditions. The more we have compassion and try to reduce social stigma, the more help that people with mental illness can receive. Many people don't seek out treatment because they are afraid of the stigma attached to mental illness.

PTSD is Preventable

As we work to create a society that is free from war, crime and discrimination, we can prevent many of the events that cause PTSD. This would mean that less people are diagnosed with new cases of PTSD each year.

Preventing violent crimes should be a priority for our governments, and for each of us individually. We need to find more compassion for others, and learn to disagree in less violent ways. This way, the instances of violent crimes will decrease.

According to Just Safe,

We know what solutions work to make our communities safe. Over-enforcement and incarceration don’t keep us safe. Providing support for victims, mental health, addiction treatment, healing, and housing do.

By creating a focus on crime prevention, instead of apprehending and punishing criminals, we can create a safer society. When we help to reduce the causes of violent crimes, it can reduce the crime rate in cities across the world.

Reducing poverty, providing education, and helping those with mental health issues to receive treatment can all help to reduce crime rates. Providing interventions to stop crime is more effective than simply responding after the fact when the damage has already been done.

Aiming to reduce crime rates can do a great deal of good for many people. If local communities can come together in these efforts, then some resources that are currently devoted to policing and costs of incarceration can be redirected to crime prevention instead.

We can also work to decriminalize non-violent offences, such as drug use, so that more resources can be devoted towards violent crimes. In the cases of drug use or possession, we can use addiction treatment programs instead of the criminal justice system. Once people enter the system, even if it is for a drug offence, they are more likely to engage in additional criminal behavior when they are released from incarceration.

PTSD can leave scars on victims that last a lifetime. By reducing the rates of violent crime, we can help to save people from experiencing this debilitating condition.

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