Research Frustrated By Ptsd Data

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As I research PTSD today, I come across multiple instances of statistics that don't reflect my reality living with chronic PTSD.

According to Mark Erickson, in a talk he gives as psychiatrist, here: SBNI Lunch Lecture Series - The Neurobiology of PTSD

Many people experience a trauma and qualify as PTSD a month later, but by four months later, do not. He gives many figures to demonstrate how PTSD sort of vanishes from the population of sufferers.

He doesn't break that stat pile down with any sort of explanation for the reduction in PTSD other than to say that PTSD goes away for most people.

Other research I have read cites 15 years as a mean duration for the disorder. I also read in those articles that if your PTSD has lasted more than 15 years or is delayed onset, then it is expected to be life-long.

He says that 75% of people experience a 'trauma' but only 3% or so go on to develop PTSD from it, and this is explained as a physiological pre-existing condition that is of yet undetected. He shows a part of the Pre-frontal cortex that inhibits and retrains the fight/flight of amygdala but "must not be working" in PTSD sufferers.

This implies that those with PTSD didn't survive something unusual or severe enough to break anyone down into PTSD; rather, the implication is that PTSD is the brain failing to do its job in telling us the cues are no longer a threat. He says even a conditioned fear response can be untrained by this part of the brain that is not working in PTSD.

Yet, this theory is then self-contradicted by his concession to the fact that child abuse and child rape almost always leads to PTSD and that more than any other trauma, it has the highest correlation to developing PTSD, like almost a guarantee. This makes the "brain part not working" theory questionable, unless that part of the brain hasn't formed yet or is easily "broken" by that trauma or during childhood in general.

What makes me so frustrated is that people qualify as having PTSD after one month post trauma based on criteria (from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity) yet, they are magically better after four months with our without treatment.

Finally, saying that we have effective treatments (in all videos out there on PTSD) seems to be a bald face lie.

Am I wrong for thinking that there is no wonderful pill out there fixing PTSD. He mentioned Prazosin for sleep.

Is everyone taking that now and finding it helpful?

I don't always suffer from nightmares or sleep problems, per se, but have all the other problems and the health problems that come from a lifetime with PTSD.

Is my frustration because the focus was on the "Mildest" one-time trauma, simple adult-onset vs. complex child trauma PTSD, or is this kind of presentation maddening to most of us with PTSD that hangs on?


@Muse, you, me, and most here on MyPTSD, are the minority of PTSD sufferers, being we have lifetime PTSD from complex or severe trauma exposure, usually over a durational period.

The majority of those diagnosed with PTSD recover fully with no intervention, around 60%, within 3 - 6 months immediately after the trauma.

Mental health professionals diagnose anyone they come across who meet criterion. Hell... you could theoretically diagnose every single person on the planet with a mental health disorder if you looked at each person uniquely. That is how broken the mental health diagnostic system is.


And here I am, the one who typically doesn't develop any PTSD symptoms at all until 4-6 months post-trauma for most of the incidents in my life. Years for some of them.

How does data explain that?




And @Symphony I was diagnosed with PSTD in 1997, and I lived with it at a certain level doing pretty much okay some of the time and having lots of symptoms at some times of increased stress in college and within my relationship with my boyfriend, which I found most challenging.

It was not until 2011 that the worst of the flashbacks started. I don't think I have "delayed onset" but it was delayed for some of the worst and most florid of the symptoms, or put another way, my PTSD got much worse suddenly after a time of stress, worse than I ever believed possible.

Fortunately, I was on this forum prior to the dam breaking. I think this forum has helped me get through the worst of PTSD, along with my supportive spouse, therapist, doctor, and friends who are aware of my condition.

@anthony thank you for making the distinction of chronic PTSD and the usual kind that is diagnosed.

The only good thing is that people like you and me care about finding ways to live with this and maybe that will help those who only have it for a while, too.


New Here
With PTSD, you have to exhibit symptoms for over a year- in the least. The DSM has clearly stated that if a person exhibits symptoms for a year or more, then they are to be diagnosed officially.

I'm not saying that someone can't have PTSD or C-PTSD at all after a few months, it's not generally diagnosed so quickly. It's normally monitored or goes unnoticed until later on. I had a trauma back in 2014 and have been struggling since with generalized anxiety disorder. Just a few months ago I was diagnosed with PTSD officially. Now I'm in a new counseling center that deals specifically with trauma and I'm getting a C-PTSD diagnoses. I have a complex disorder because I've grown up with trauma most of my life. Now that I'm away from all of those traumas- i.e. family and my ex boyfriend- I've been having disassociative flashbacks. However, the anxiety and intrusive thoughts have happened for almost 3 years now and I've been hypervigilant in my every day life. I live in fear that I'm going to be attacked or that I'm going to be taken away from my own family that I've started. I know that it's irrational, but I still panic.

@Symphony: You're not going to necessarily start experiencing any PTSD symptoms until that 4 month mark. I know that I was in too much shock after I was assaulted by my ex-boyfriend. It's the body's devices to protect you from your trauma by not remembering. After awhile, your brain and body decides you can handle certain pieces about your trauma. I believe that's why flashbacks happen- you're trying to figure out what happened, piece by piece. I, myself, have had things coming back to me this past year after I was completely removed from trauma altogether. However, I still had anxiety and hypervigilance that started developing from way back when 3 years ago.

That being said, I also had childhood abuse and sexual trauma from before 5 years of age. I grew up fine after having been in counseling and I think it was just .... unearthed by a recent trauma or realizing that while I was removed from one abusive home, I grew up being abused. Who knows? I think almost everyone has some sort of trauma in their lives- it's just how they've processed it. I haven't had time to process mine and need to. In the last 4 years my father passed, I had an abusive ex-boyfriend, I met my husband, got married, and had a baby. That's a lot for 4 years to happen. I wasn't able to grieve my father and haven't been able to process my assault by my ex. I think that's mostly why I'm dealing with the flashbacks I'm having. I'm literally reliving my trauma with my disassociative flashbacks.


With PTSD, you have to exhibit symptoms for over a year- in the least. The DSM has clearly stated that if a person exhibits symptoms for a year or more, then they are to be diagnosed officially.
The DSM 5 states one month not one year
Criterion F: duration
Persistence of symptoms (in Criteria B, C, D, and E) for more than one month.


Right, one month, and that impacts the data, which then makes it appear as though PTSD just melts away after a few months or years.

Other data said 15 years is the average. So none of the data matches or satisfies me.

One thing I read was that if you have had PTSD steadily for over 15 years, then plan to have it the rest of your life, albeit, you can have periods of remission or better times, symptom-wise. Thank goodness.


Right, one month, and that impacts the data, which then makes it appear as though PTSD just melts away after a few months or years.
I guess this is the reality for many people though - I know a fair few people who were appropriately diagnosed with PTSD and who have become symptom free after a relatively short time and some of the links on this thread point to the relevant research.
That doesn't invalidate the experience of others for whom it is a very debilitating, life long condition, it's just not that way for everyone.


I thank you for the comments. It does offer me perspective. You are helping me hone what's really bothering me. Thank you.

I wonder what the data would be like if those tallying it up didn't need it to justify their conclusion that "effective treatments are now available."

That is simply not correct if you are pediatric or chronic PTSD, and they have aggregated their data so that in this sense, it's meaningless. If they disaggregate the data, they will show that for peds and chronic, they are effectively not able to make that same claim.

If a treatment like Dr. Lipov is trying to find were found that completely removed at least the primary physical aspects of PTSD and were available and covered by insurance or the gov't for children and chronic adult patients with PTSD, then that would be brag-worthy indeed. Then, there would still be the psychological portion and social retraining of the person to reintegrate within a supportive relationship and back into work or what have you, as Anthony has pointed out, which I agree. But that would be so much easier if the physical body was mended for long periods.

I truly hope that more study is done on the mind-body aspects and that not too many are satisfied by this kind of reporting of data.
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