Often the most obvious answer may not be so obvious to all seeking said answer. So what is the question that eludes the obvious answer, you’re now asking yourself?
If Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is incurable, can I fully recover to live a normal life?
Curable vs. Treatable
By definition, curable means the disease can be completely eliminated, versus treatable, which means only the symptoms can be relieved. So… can you live a normal life with relieved symptoms? The answer is, yes!
Degree of Recovery
PTSD is not created equal, and you must accept that fact. There are diverse factors that affect overall recovery outcome. There are high-functioning persons, normal recovery outcomes with no further affect, low functioning and the bottom of the PTSD barrel where the person can’t function in society and suffer daily symptoms the remainder of their life. People can start at the bottom of the barrel and fully recover with little to zero ongoing symptoms.
There are no hard facts about recovery outcomes for PTSD because all treatment options have different success rates, and it can take a person years, decades even, to find the treatment / therapist that worked for them uniquely. The below is an approximate recovery rate based on overall statistics using primary PTSD treatments. We start with a figure of 100% of persons diagnosed with PTSD.
- Approximately 60% will completely recover with no further symptoms.
- The next 35% have a varying level of recovery from full recovery that takes years, to partial recovery, yet allowing them to participate in life via employment, education, relationships and so forth.
- The remaining 5%, approximately, will have what is deemed life-time PTSD. This means they will never successfully hold full-time employment or be able to participate in life socially for extended periods, being days, maybe a week or two, before they get crushed by symptoms and need to adopt their retreat and management principles.
Is PTSD treatable? Absolutely! The recovery rate is exceptional for approximately 80% of sufferers. The remaining 20% can still have a vastly improved life by healing their trauma and learning how to manage PTSD.
Healing trauma does not mean forgetting about it. Healing trauma means removing the negative stigma that creates / heightens symptoms to extreme levels.
Some people think the type of trauma affects their overall symptom distress. Well, for the most part you would be wrong with that assumption. Whilst there are some specific symptom profiles that produce known outcomes, the severity varies from person to person, personality to personality, belief system to belief system.
Ten women raped, yet only three obtain PTSD. Of those three with PTSD their symptom profile and severity will be diverse. All three may be ok with working a full-time job, yet may now share a broken reality for their security and all take obsessive security in moving from home to work, then back to home, have zero social life and distance themselves from family. Of the other seven, some may increase their security, have nightmares and anxiety, though find security in having people they know around them, so they shift to being more social, more outgoing, yet still more aware of their surroundings and such.
Out of the ten, five may never be able to have a relationship again. Some may shift their sexual preferences, as they find comfort and security in being with the gender opposite to the one held by their rapist. Some may abstain from sex for years, decades even, as a result of being violated.
You should already see a symptom diverse and severity profile occurring above, and remember, only three had PTSD as a result, yet all ten endure changes, distress, some symptoms throughout their life and behavioural changes. Being raped, or enduring any traumatic event, does not equate to having PTSD. The effects of trauma and having symptoms is different from a neurological disorder occurring within your brain as a result of the trauma.
Many think childhood trauma comes with severe symptoms, when in actual fact longevity of symptoms is usually more correct. The symptoms are present at moderate levels, yet most with childhood abuse are functioning adults who work, have families, relationships and participate in life. Their area of clinically significant distress is often with parental family / siblings, being where the abuse occurred. A child brain is extremely resilient and malleable, thus they get on with life more readily but hold onto the failure of being protected, cared for and loved by a parent / guardian. Trust is typically shattered.
Single traumatic events in adulthood have exceptional success rates for recovery, yet can often have short-term severe symptoms along with repercussions in the persons life.
Veterans and sufferers of horrific repeated traumatic events typically have the most severe symptom profile. They both have in common a longevity of trauma, extreme psychological pressures and the trauma type is extremely severe and often diverse in nature. The key factor is that the events happen for a duration in teen years onwards. The brain becomes less forgiving in teenage years, and especially within adulthood, as our personality and belief systems stabilise.
Here is the question that shapes the above information in relation to PTSD having no cure and why PTSD is classified as such, and only treatable… will I relapse?
PTSD is a neurologic formation within the brain. Once it occurs, it can’t be undone according to current neurology data. It exists within the prefrontal cortex and is otherwise unknown to date. Neurology has discovered that the brain is malleable and can repair itself. It is the how and the degree of repair that is unknown.
This puts anyone with PTSD that recovers into the relapse basket due to prior susceptibility. Nobody can see or predict the future with specificity. If you face a minor or major traumatic event in your future, will you relapse? Will you have no issue because you use what you learnt to recover the first time, not making the same mistakes by ignoring symptoms? Will you become worse and one of the 5% with lifetime PTSD?
All rational questions, with no known answer. The answer will come at the time you endure a future traumatic event, which could be minor or major, regardless of fitting criterion A again. Either way, PTSD relapse is highly likely because you already have it in your brain due to fitting criterion A… the question is merely whether it will show and to what degree.
Hearing that PTSD has no cure and will be with you for life should not be a negative, but instead take it for what it is, a current fact. Reading the above you can differentiate between cure and treatable. You can fully recover from PTSD and live a very normal life. Even being one of the 5%, you can recover significantly to atleast live a good life that fits within stricter boundaries in order to manage symptoms. You should be able to remove most symptoms and function in life’s basics, regardless of initial severity.