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In addition to sharing similar names, there are considerable similarities and differences between PTSS and PTSD. Both are linked to trauma and are manifestations of the untreated, long-term impact of traumatic experiences like sexual assault, neglect, natural disasters, and others. However, there are significant differences between the two. Below is a guide on PTSS vs. PTSD.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS)?
Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) or post-traumatic stress is a common, normal, and adaptive response to either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Common incidents like car accidents can trigger PTSS, as well as more unusual incidents like kidnapping. Almost everyone who experiences a terrifying situation will display signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
We experience PTSS because our brains are designed to alert our bodies to tense our muscles, breathe faster, and pump more blood when we are under extreme stress. This reaction is also known as the “fight-or-flight” response that prepares your body to deal with a threat or challenge by pumping more blood and oxygen into your muscles while shutting down less critical functions like digestion. Because this is considered a normal reaction to a stressful or traumatic situation, PTSS is not considered a mental health disorder but rather a typical reaction.
Some common symptoms of PTSS include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Shaky hands
- Excessive sweating
- Sense of fear and impending doom
Following the event, the individual may also avoid or be wary of engaging in the activity again or anything that may remind them of the event. They might also have a bad dream about the event and may even feel nervous when they come across something that reminds them of the incident.
The good news is that PTSS symptoms usually subside a few days after the event and usually do not lead to any prolonged, meaningful interference in one’s life. However, if you’re struggling with your mental health following a traumatic event, our residential mental health program in Boca can help.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that is triggered by either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Always being on guard
- Avoiding places, people, and things that are reminders of the event
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Hopelessness about the future
- Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
- Lack of interest in activities the person once enjoyed
- Memory problems, including not remembering important elements of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about oneself, other people, or the world
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Recurrent, unwanted memories, dreams, or nightmares of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse or driving too fast
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds the person of the traumatic event
- Trying to avoid thinking of the event or things that remind the person of the event
- Withdrawing from loved ones
While some of these symptoms sound like those of PTSS, there is a significant difference between post-traumatic stress syndrome vs. disorder, especially when it comes to duration and intensity.
Is There a Difference Between PTSD and PTSS?
When comparing PTSS vs. PTSD, the main difference is that PTSS is not a legitimate mental health disorder like PTSD. Rather, it is a precursor to PTSD. PTSS is a reaction or symptoms that occur earlier than 30 days after experiencing a traumatic event.
As a result, PTSS is now being recognized as a serious health concern. Even so, PTSS often goes unrecognized until a PTSD diagnosis is made.
Screening tools like the PTSS-14 are reliable in identifying people with PTSS who are at a high risk of developing PTSD. Through earlier recognition, providers may be able to intervene and alleviate or reduce the effects of the traumatic experience and the likelihood of a PTSD diagnosis.
Help for PTSD or PTSS
Whether you have PTSS or PTSD, our center for mental health care in Boca Raton is here for you. We offer PTSD treatment that utilizes various evidence-based therapy techniques like CBT and biofeedback to help clients cope with their symptoms and get to a better place when it comes to their mental health.
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