Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a well-known mental health disorder that often makes the news. What many people are only recently beginning to discuss is post-traumatic stress (PTS). While the conditions are essentially the same, a movement is afoot to change the name of it in order to make looking for help easier to do for those who might otherwise have trouble doing so. Many people either do not recognize themselves as having PTSD or they feel intimidated to seek treatment for what clinicians refer to as a disorder. This has introduced an interesting dialogue about PTS vs. PTSD that is still evolving. 

What is PTSD?

PTSD is classified as a mental health disorder that occurs after an individual experiences a traumatic event. The event can have just occurred or taken place years or even decades earlier. The person may or may not be aware that what happened to them can be classified as traumatic. While not everyone who endures a traumatic event develops PTSD, those who do require help in dealing with it.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports that approximately six out of every one hundred people will experience PTSD at some point during their lifetime. This represents six percent of the population. During any given year, around 12 million U.S. adults have PTSD. It is twice as likely to happen to women than men. 

Whether a person feels what they have is PTS vs. PTSD, one thing remains certain. Each person with this condition needs professional help in overcoming it. Going without help, especially for years at a time, typically makes the symptoms worse and compromises the person’s ability to control and overcome many of their symptoms. 

Events that qualify as traumatic and can cause PTSD include: 

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence as an adult or child 
  • Childhood molestation
  • Childhood neglect 
  • Bullying
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce (one’s own or their parents when the child is young)
  • Natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and more)
  • Being in a serious accident
  • Being stalked
  • Witnessing acts of violence
  • Serious illness or injury
  • Witnessing military events or acts of war

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Whether someone is officially diagnosed with PTS vs. PTSD, not everyone exhibits the exact same signs and symptoms. However, many common ones occur. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Having nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Easily startled
  • Moodiness
  • Angry feelings
  • Acting aggressively or violently
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolating
  • Becoming detached from loved ones
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes
  • Repressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or attempts

PTS vs PTSD: What is the Difference?

Conversations are taking place about possibly changing the name of PTSD to PTS. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the authoritative handbook used by mental health care professionals in order to provide diagnoses for their clients. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association. First published in 1952, the DSM has gone through revisions multiple times in order to reflect new studies done and knowledge gained related to the mental health field. This includes new terminology for some mental health disorders. 

PTSD was originally documented during the American Civil War and referred to as shell shock. The name then became battle fatigue, and became known as PTSD in the 1980s. The DSM-5 moved PTSD from the category of an anxiety disorder to a new diagnostic criteria called “Trauma and Stressor-related Disorders”. 

When considering the different between PTS vs PTSD, the fact is that there isn’t one. Instead, it’s a difference in the name of the condition. Popular opinion is moving in the direction of leaving the word “disorder” off the official diagnostic name in order to take some of the stigma off the illness. Many veterans feel reluctant to seek help for their PTSD, for example. As well, veterans diagnosed with PTSD are not eligible to obtain the Purple Heart, which is given to vets who suffered from physical injuries during military service.

Many people in other populations dealing with trauma feel similarly about changing the name of PTSD to PTS. They cite feeling more comfortable accepting their condition and getting help for it with this new name. Many people feel it’s more in line with an injury rather than an actual disorder. Whether or not the DSM will update to include a name change remains to be seen. Meanwhile, debates will continue about what verbiage best describes the condition, including how it relates to moving the most people to take steps to heal themselves. 

Treatment for PTS or PTSD in Atlanta, GA

While someone experiencing PTS or PTSD may feel hopeless, several types of treatment can help them manage and even eliminate some of the side effects of this mental illness. Some people begin treatment in a residential program which requires the person to live in a facility for several weeks or months while receiving care. For others, outpatient care fits their needs. This type of care provides different levels of programs that fit the needs of the individual’s situation and treatment goals and allows them to live at home. 

Types of treatment modalities that prove effective in treating trauma-based illnesses include the following:

An effective, multidisciplinary program begins treatment by providing a full assessment of each individual. From there, a diagnosis can be provided, including any other mental health issues that might also be occurring. Then, a treatment plan that meets the needs of the person can be designed, which allows them to get the exact help they need. 

Get Help For PTS or PTSD in Atlanta, GA

The changing landscape of diagnostic language for mental health disorders can make a person confused about what constitutes PTS vs PTSD. Trauma, regardless of when it was experienced or the label used to describe its ultimate impact, requires treatment from experts in the field of trauma-based care. New View Wellness in Atlanta offers a program specifically for PTS/PTSD that includes outpatient treatment plans that help people overcome their trauma. Our team understands how to treat each person’s unique needs with friendly, knowledgeable care.

If you would like to discuss options for getting effective, compassionate care for trauma-related mental health disorders, contact us today.