Understanding The Causes And Risk Factors For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Family History Of Mental Health Issues

Studies have shown a family history of mental health issues will contribute to an individual's likelihood of developing PTSD after a traumatic event. Substance use disorders and mental illnesses both appear to increase the risk. In addition, studies have shown experiencing or witnessing the mental health problems or substance use disorders of family members can in itself lead to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. One study showed individuals who had witnessed a physical assault had twice the chances of developing PTSD when someone in the family also had mental health or substance use issues. 

For this reason, patients need to talk to their doctor about any family history of mental illness. This includes whether anybody in their family has a substance use problem; experiences depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders; has a personality disorder; or experiences psychotic symptoms. All of these things can increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder because of how they affect both an individual's responses growing up and their genetic brain chemistry.

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