How PTSD Presents in Young Men

how PTSD presents in young men

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has long been associated with veterans and first responders. However, anyone who experiences a traumatic event can be susceptible to PTSD. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Understanding how PTSD presents in young men is an important area to be aware of, especially now.

What is PTSD?

When something disturbing or unsettling happens, it’s normal to be a little upset for a while. When you experience a traumatic event or circumstance and your negative feelings last a month or longer, you may have PTSD. The anxiety disorder may not become apparent immediately after the trauma. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to experience the symptoms of PTSD.

Traumatic Events

As a young man, you may experience a traumatic event or live through a traumatic circumstance in your life. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop the anxiety disorder, these are the types of experiences that can cause PTSD. Your fear in such a situation will trigger a “fight or flight” response, which is the natural way your body protects you in times of danger. You will probably also experience a heightened alertness, increased blood pressure, and a faster heart rate and breathing rate.

PTSD symptoms are longer lasting and more severe, in some cases. Those symptoms can be caused by an event that is life threatening such as a bad car accident or a violent assault. If you’ve been in a physical fight with someone else, that can be a traumatic event. You may have lived through a natural disaster that was devastating such as a flood or hurricane. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its uncertainty, fear, and isolation, has been a traumatic event for many young men.

You may also experience trauma when the situation is not necessarily life threatening to you. For example, you may have unexpectedly lost a loved one such as a grandparent or parent. You may have witnessed a car accident or someone else’s severe injury, rather than experiencing it firsthand. This can also be a traumatic event for you.

PTSD Emerging in Young Adults

While anyone can experience a traumatic event and subsequent PTSD onset at any age, the typical onset age for PTSD is in early adulthood. PTSD presents in young men in their 20s, with a median onset age of 23. Part of the reason for this may be that older adults do not put themselves in situations where they may experience trauma as much as young adults may do. Young men tend to be more active, join the military in early adulthood, and are less experienced with dealing with emotional and physical stress.

Do I Have PTSD?

After experiencing a traumatic event or circumstance in your life, you may have certain symptoms that can lead you to think you may have PTSD. If these symptoms last more than four weeks, you should consult with a healthcare professional to seek out treatment for your mental health. PTSD presents in young men in a number of ways. You may experience some or all of these symptoms, which are categorized into different types.

Re-experiencing symptoms. These occur when something reminds you or the trauma you experienced and you then feel that fear all over again. You might have flashbacks or nightmares as well as frightening thoughts.

Avoidance symptoms. You might try to avoid the people or situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You stay away from places or objects that remind you of what happened. If you were in a bad car accident, for example, you may not want to drive again.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms. You may be jittery or constantly on the lookout for danger. You can be easily startled, feeling on edge, and you can have trouble sleeping. You may also find that you have angry outbursts.

Cognition and mood symptoms. These are negative changes in your feelings and beliefs. You might start to develop negative thoughts about the world and about yourself. You feel guilty or are blaming yourself for what happened. You have trouble concentrating and no longer enjoy the things that used to interest you. In addition, you may have trouble remembering the important details of the traumatic event itself.

Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE

As a young man, if you are experiencing PTSD symptoms, it is time to reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. Asking for help is a sign of strength. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and substance use issues you may also have. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.