Is PTSD Becoming Overused?

Once called shell shock and thought to be the property of military personnel, now in 2016 we know that PTSD is something that can happen to anyone, and there is so much more to it than what first meets the eye.

I am a little concerned by seeing the growing numbers of people saying they have PTSD – for two reasons.

It either means that there is a global increase in trauma (such as the refugee crisis) so therefore, greater numbers of people suffering with PTSD – which if that is the case is highly worrying.

OR

It means that the term is being misused, which if so, also worries me a great deal. So many PTSD memes show pretty, sad looking women in their 20's, and that worries me. (Lots of things are worrying me it seems – but hey – I’ve only slept about 8 broken hours in the last 72 – because – PTSD!) Lots of people go through hard times in their lives. Just because you’ve been through a hard time though does not mean you have PTSD.

PTSD is caused by suffering a trauma that is outside the standard human experience, and it has a set of specific symptoms. It isn’t “just” being very sad over an event in your life. Please understand that I’m not trying to minimise anyone’s pain, and I know that what is the breaking point for one person will be different from the next. I’m simply concerned over what appears to be a trend, and a general loosening of the word. I have felt sick upon seeing comments on Twitter such as “omg I’ve had such a bad day I think I have #PTSD” – really not cool.

Speaking as someone who has lived with severe PTSD all of her adult life, it is a living hell and it will control your life if you have it. I’m concerned that overuse of the word will minimise its impact. However I wish to be clear that I am not saying that anyone is purposefully misleading others into thinking they have PTSD. I think the true definition might not be known to all. I know that I personally saw it misrepresented in Facebook groups dedicated to the subject. PTSD is not a mental illness, it is sustaining one or more psychological injuries that have grave and very real lifelong repercussions.

However it could still be my first point (or most likely, a combination of both factors). An increase in acts of violence, global traumas and political unrest could be causing more people to develop PTSD. Times have certainly been especially hard since the turning of the millennium.

At any rate, I hope that PTSD continues to be a subject that is frequently discussed and studied. The next generation will need to know how to treat it, with millions of children currently growing up displaced, misplaced or just plain ignored.

God bless you all.

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