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When PTSD can develop: risk factors

14 June 2022

If you are reading this article, you probably already know what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is.

A brief reminder: PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event (war, fighting, disaster, violence, etc.).

It should be remembered that PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

PTSD symptoms usually appear within 3 months after the traumatic event, but can sometimes appear later.

To meet the criteria for PTSD, symptoms must last for more than 1 month and be severe enough to interfere with daily life: work or relationships. The symptoms must also not be related to taking medicine, substance use or another illness.

You can read more about PTSD symptoms in a separate article.

What causes PTSD most often

If you have experienced any of the following situations, you are likely to develop PTSD with a time lapse:

  • war and armed conflicts
  • witnessing somebody else's violent death
  • serious accidents ( for example a car crash)
  • physical or sexual abuse
  • serious health problems or being in intensive care
  • complicated childbirth
  • life-threatening illness
  • terrorist attacks
  • natural or man-caused disasters (for example tsunamis or fires).

In fact, the number of events that can cause PTSD is much greater. If your experience is not described here, it does not mean that you should not ask for help and support from a professional if you experience a disorder

Key risk factors of PTSD

If there is a lack of support from family or friends after a traumatic event or a stressful situation, or if there is lingering depression or anxiety, the risk of developing PTSD is increased.

Considering the recent events in Ukraine, a significant proportion of the civilian population falls under the risk factors of PTSD. Refugees and asylum seekers may experience trauma that can lead to PTSD.

Among the military, risk factors of PTSD include:

  • length of combat exposure
  • ow morale
  • poor social support
  • lower rank
  • single status
  • low education level
  • history of childhood problems
  • availability of previous mental health history increases the risk of PTSD.

First aid providers, for example, police, ambulance staff are more likely to encounter traumatic events due to their professional duties. However, the fact that they have chosen such a profession suggests a certain resilience.

It is believed that genetic factor can also play a significant role in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, according to some studies, if parents have mental health problems, it increases the chances of developing PTSD.

If you have recently experienced a traumatic event and are still feeling its consequences, consult a general practitioner.


  4. Javidi H, Yadollahie M; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Jan3(1):2-9.

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