PTS is contracted when the human brain is subjected to some sort of adverse experience, tragic event or fear that it wasn’t built to withstand. Many humans can be subjected to events which can cause this condition. In fact, nearly all of us can experience some sort of event which will challenge our senses. This can have just a short term affect or it can be long lasting, depending on the person and the event.
In cases of longer lasting PTS, it is mainly contracted in situations where the person has to get on with the job he or she is doing and move on to the next phase.
In these cases the memory of the event can be suppressed into the subconscious and unless the event is discussed reasonably soon, it can stay there and ferment. The end result of this fermentation period is a large range of PTS symptoms eventually emerging which can affect the person’s life in quite a debilitating way. These symptoms appear gradually without the person really noticing or being aware of the cause.
Anxiety keeps you ready to fight, and depression keeps you from being too active and putting yourself at greater risk. This is a universal human adaptation to danger that is common to other mammals as well. It may be unpleasant, but it’s preferable to getting eaten.Sebastian Junger
PTS is prominently associated with the Military but it also affects many others in the service of their community. These people include the Police Force, Fire Fighters, Ambulance and Paramedic personnel, SES, Doctors and Nurses. It even affects Funeral Parlour personnel, Train Drivers and those innocent victims of crime, accidents and natural disasters.
PTS is not a recent phenomenon. It came to prominence under this name in the 1980s among Vietnam War Veterans. But the condition itself, under different names, dates back to Ancient Greece. It is referred to in Shakespeare’s writings and also during the American Civil War and the two Great Wars.
Having experienced such trauma, most personnel in uniform or Veterans, more often than not, believe they are ‘’bullet proof’’ and any suggestion of a mental condition is taboo. As a result, they do not willingly seek help. An important part of any treatment is to convince each person that PTS is an illness, not a weakness.