Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Seth. Seth Wonders, “Are people born with PTSD, or is it something you can get?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Seth!

What’s your happiest memory? A birthday party? Maybe a family event? Many people enjoy their memories. However, not all memories are happy. Most people have a few memories they’d like to forget. Sometimes, bad memories pop up and won’t go away. This could be a sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD develops in response to a traumatic event. It can be caused by many situations. For example, natural disasters can cause PTSD in some people. Others may have PTSD after experiencing violence. Car crashes are another possible cause. Additionally, PTSD sometimes affects  veterans of war. People can even have PTSD after watching another person go through a painful event. 

What are the signs of PTSD? Someone going through PTSD may have flashbacks, bad dreams, or scary thoughts about the event. They might also stay away from things that remind them of what happened. People going through PTSD can feel tense and have trouble sleeping. They might also have difficulty remembering details of the painful event. 

Children with PTSD have different symptoms from adults. Sometimes, they can’t talk. They might also wet the bed. Kids going through PTSD might act out the scary event during playtime. They often want to be around a parent or another trusted adult at all times.

Not everyone who goes through a traumatic event will develop PTSD. It only affects about one in every three people who go through trauma. Why does PTSD develop in some people and not others? Experts aren’t quite sure. However, they have found a few common risk factors. For example, people with past anxiety and depression have PTSD more often. Genes and stress hormones are other possible factors.

Some experts also think PTSD is the result of a person’s natural survival mechanism. In this case, PTSD symptoms would arise to prepare a person in case the traumatic event happens again. It’s part of the body’s attempt to help the person survive the event. For example, a person who had a bad car crash might have flashbacks to the event. This could be their mind forcing them to replay what happened so they can avoid getting hurt next time.

Brain scans also help doctors better understand PTSD. They show that when a person has PTSD, their hippocampus shrinks. This is the part of the brain that controls memory. It also handles emotion. Many believe this might cause the flashbacks and feelings of stress.

How do doctors treat PTSD? There’s no single treatment plan. Therapy and medicine help most people. PTSD is different for everyone. It takes time to find out what will work for each patient.

Do you know a person who is going through PTSD? There’s plenty you can do to help. Support from friends and family members is very important for people with PTSD. Be understanding and supportive. Be available if your friend or family member needs help. Encourage them to see a doctor often.

It’s also important to know the common triggers for PTSD. For example, people experiencing PTSD after war often need to avoid fireworks. If there’s a veteran in your family or neighborhood, be considerate and talk with them about their needs. Your support can make all the difference.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.4

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