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Why do some people get PTSD and other people do not?

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Summary:

It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event gets PTSD.

Answer:

It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event gets PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder.

Many factors play a part in whether a person will get PTSD. Some of these are risk factors that make a person more likely to get PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder. Some of these risk and resilience factors are present before the trauma and others become important during and after a traumatic event.

Risk factors for PTSD include:

Living through dangerous events and traumas

Having a history of mental illness

Getting hurt

Seeing people hurt or killed

Feeling horror, helplessness or extreme fear

Having little or no social support after the event

Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home

Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:

Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family

Finding a support group after a traumatic event

Feeling good about one’s own actions in the face of danger

Having a coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it

Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear.

Researchers are studying the importance of various risk and resilience factors. With further researcher, it should become possible to predict who is likely to get PTSD, how resilience can be learned and prevent it.

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