What are the causes of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not a mental disorder someone is born with. In order to develop PTSD, someone needs to experience or witness a traumatic event. A traumatic event can be anything, ranging from being bullied to sexual assault, and from a car accident to being threatened by someone on social media. Experiencing a traumatic event is one of the causes of PTSD.
Fortunately, experiencing a traumatic event alone is not enough to develop PTSD. It is possible that two people experience the same car accident, but only one of them develops PTSD. It is likely that the person who develops post-traumatic stress disorder is more vulnerable to developing PTSD. On this page we will discuss the causes of PTSD.
There are two main factors contributing to the possible development of PTSD: environmental stressors and genetic vulnerability . We’ll discuss each of the causes of PTSD below, as well as the risk factors and protective factors that help prevent PTSD to develop after experiencing a traumatic event.
At Barends Psychology Practice, we treat post-traumatic stress disorder online and in person. Book your first, free of charge, session now: contact us. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).
Causes of PTSD – environmental stressors
Causes of PTSD – genetics
Which risk factors contribute to the causes of PTSD?
No risk factor directly causes PTSD, but there are a few risk factors that indirectly increase the chance of developing PTSD.
- One of the causes of PTSD are traumatic experiences someone faced early in life (since childhood). The amount and severity of traumatic experiences increase the chance that a future ´traumatic´ event may causes PTSD.
- Inherited mental health risks (depression or anxiety) might increase the chance that a future ´traumatic´ event causes PTSD.
- Inherited personality traits (think of temperament) may be one of the causes of PTSD development in the future.
- Having a job that brings you more often in the position of experiencing traumatic events (like soldiers).
- Lacking a good support system may increase the chance that a future traumatic event causes PTSD. Talking about your feelings and about what happened during the traumatic event helps your mind to process all the information. Especially for people who are being or have been bullied, this is especially essential. If people who are being bullied don’t have a good support system, the chances of them developing PTSD increase drastically.
Causes of PTSD – protective factors
Causes of PTSD – Literature
 Perrin, M. A., DiGrande, L., Wheeler, K., Thorpe, L., Farfel, M., & Brackbill, R. (2007). Differences in PTSD prevalence and associated risk factors among World Trade Center disaster rescue and recovery workers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 1385-1394.
 Yuan, C., Wang, Z., Inslicht, S. S., McCaslin, S. E., Metzler, T. J., Henn-Haase, C., … & Marmar, C. R. (2011). Protective factors for posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in a prospective study of police officers. Psychiatry research, 188, 45-50.