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PTSD Awareness Day: Impulsive, risky behavior may suggest worsening of symptoms
Posted in Dual diagnosis

There are many people who like to drink heavily, party hard, gamble profusely or have a penchant for various drugs. While some may dismiss these traits as manifestations of reckless behavior, psychologists stress that this is actually a kind of personality.

Some people tend to take risks for excitement. They complain of boredom when life becomes too predictable. Some researchers suggest that risk-taking behavior, deemed as a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may worsen the symptoms of the disorder. Continued risk-taking tendencies may result in a pattern of recurring stressful experiences that may lead to adverse consequences in people with PTSD.

Anxiousness, which is characteristic of PTSD, can develop after exposure to some kind of event or ordeal that leaves one petrified. The U.S. Congress observes June 27 every year as the National PTSD Awareness Day to raise awareness about the disorder and its effective available treatments. It is important for people to understand that this psychological problem can develop due to single or multiple traumatic experiences, including being stuck up in war zones, war-related combat stress, grievous physical assaults, sexual attacks or disasters (natural or manmade).

Reckless and self-destructive behaviors

A recent study, titled “Reckless Self-Destructive Behavior and PTSD in Veterans: The Mediating Role of New Adverse Events,” suggested a potential link between tendencies to wallow in risky behavior and PTSD. Based on the findings, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress in May 2017, the researchers have added “reckless and self-destructive behavior” as a PTSD symptom in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the reference manual referred by psychologists to detect psychiatric disorders.

The researchers examined over 200 veteran officers diagnosed with PTSD for possible signs of rash behavior during the beginning of the study in 2006. The veterans were again assessed after four years. While conducting the study, the researchers were aware that roughly three quarters of the respondents had been involved in impetuous or self-destructive tendencies at least once in the five years prior to the study.

The researchers found that the most prevalent behavior among the participants included incessant alcohol or drug use, drunk driving, gambling and engaging in aggressive behavior. An interrelationship was observed between risky behavioral tendencies and grievous PTSD during both the phases, thus, reinforcing the suggestion of risky behavior being common among veterans exposed to trauma. Elucidating the observations, one of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Naomi Sadeh, said, “These types of high-risk behaviors appear to be common among veterans who have experienced trauma, and put veterans in harm’s way by making it more likely that they will experience stress and adversity in the future.”

During the time lapse between the two tests, 82 percent respondents reported of having experienced a minimum of one traumatic event. These events involved encountering the sudden death of a friend or some loved one, feeling victimized owing to some threat or physical assault, experiencing some serious accident, hazardous events afflicting family members or loved ones or encountering some grave disease.

The findings are important as they shed light on factors that can help in treatment of veterans seeking help for their PTSD. Considering the greater amount of risk the veterans face in their daily lives compared with civilians, it is important that the implications of the findings are considered while recommending any kind of interventions to them. Prior studies have revealed how PTSD-affected veterans were engaged in compulsive drinking behavior and other kinds of addictive habit as self-medicating measures.

Recovery options

Roughly 3.5 percent U.S. population suffers from PTSD, with 36.6 percent of these cases recognized as severe, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Considering this huge number of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, it is imperative that clinicians observe reckless behaviors as possible signs of PTSD.

The fact that PTSD patients have a higher chance of abusing illicit substances necessitates the need of dual diagnosis residential treatment. The Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas specializes in treating all kinds of co-occurring conditions of mental disorders and drug dependence problems. The facility, one of the best among dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas, helps in the quick recovery of patients availing necessary treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online for more information.

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