PTSD MYTHS AND FACTS #5
MYTH: PTSD is a sign of weakness.
FACT: PTSD is not at all related to weakness.
PTSD is a diagnosable mental disorder, linked to changes in the brain and alterations to the fear response. For example, experiencing trauma can impact cognitive functions like memory, attention, and problem-solving. Trauma can also be related to an increased fear response, even when a situation is not truly threatening. These processes can become learned or automatic following a traumatic experience, as the brain’s way of protecting itself.
The responses and behaviors that are part of PTSD are not voluntary; they are the brain’s way of protecting a person from threat or danger. The fear response must happen quickly (like the fight or flight response) and does not involve rational thought. Therefore, people with PTSD do not have a choice and simply exert strength over PTSD symptoms.
Living through trauma can shape how a person behaves, and they can become particularly vulnerable to feelings of fear or extreme sadness. However, these reactions are part of changes to the body and brain following trauma and are due to a mental health condition. There is nothing weak about PTSD.
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