Living with PTSD in Canada

Living with PTSD in Canada

Content Warning: This article deals with sensitive subject matter around the topic of sexual abuse.

 

When a person experiences trauma, the consequences can live on far past the experience itself.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) affect a huge population of our society. To understand it and its implications, we must ask: what exactly is PTSD? What are its causes and symptoms? How can we take notice of those who are suffering, and try to help?

The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.” According to the National Centre for PTSD, seven to eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

It was not until 1980 that PTSD was recognized formally as a diagnosis. A medical definition came in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when veterans were seeking, and being denied, long-term health benefits. While it is commonly associated with military trauma, the official recognition of the condition has been hugely important to those who have suffered from various forms of abuse or neglect.

While some symptoms can appear immediately, they can often appear months or even years after the traumatic event occurred and is more common for certain groups than others. Interestingly, women are more than double as likely as men to experience PTSD in their lifetime. While there are many reasons for this, a contributing factor is that women are more likely to experience sexual assault, which is one of the leading causes of this condition.

Canada has one of the highest rates of PTSD in the world. In our country, the prevalence rate of lifetime PTSD is estimated to be 9.2%, with a rate of current (1‐month) PTSD of 2.4%. These statistics may come as a shock considering that Canada has a relatively low violent crime rate, a small military and few natural disasters. Most commonly, PTSD in Canada results from sexual assault, unexpected death of a loved one, or witnessing someone badly injured or killed.

If you are concerned that you or someone you care about is suffering, there are ways to find help. The Lifeline Canada Foundation has a long list of resources to assist in coping. The PTSD Association of Canada offers specialty workshops and events. Reach out to a friend, or a healthcare professional. At Share Lawyers, we believe that you deserve to live your best life, and we support you on your journey.

 

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