What is PTS

What is PTS?

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)

Even if you haven’t personally experienced trauma, you’ve probably heard of the mental health condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, you may not know that post-traumatic stress (PTS) is a different form of this mental illness. So, what is PTS?

PTS is a normal reaction to stress that subsides, while PTSD is an intense, long-term reaction to trauma. If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing PTS or PTSD, it’s important to seek help from accredited treatment centers that have staff experienced in such issues and trained in trauma.

Keep reading to learn more about post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and how Icarus Behavioral Health can help you get the treatment you deserve!

What is a Traumatic Event?

What is a Traumatic Event

The most common events leading to PTS and PTSD include combat exposure, childhood abuse/assault, sexual violence, threats with weapons, and accidents. However, it’s crucial to remember that any traumatic event can trigger PTSD.

For example, a serious injury, a natural disaster, mugging, and kidnapping can all cause PTS or PTSD. It’s essential to recognize that they can both also be triggered by events that may not seem traumatic to others. A traumatic experience is subjective and can vary greatly from person to person.

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What are the Most Common PTS Symptoms?

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event that left you shaken to your core? Maybe you witnessed a car accident, were a victim of a crime, or lost a loved one suddenly. These types of experiences can cause a normal response known as post-traumatic stress (PTS).

The most common symptoms include flashbacks or intrusive thoughts related to the traumatic event, avoidance behaviors, negative thoughts and feelings, and persistent hyperarousal.

Symptoms of PTS may subside in a few days, but they may also persist for longer periods, causing disruptions in work, school, or relationships.

Treatment for PTS is not required, but it should be sought if the symptoms are prolonged or interfere with daily functioning.

Difference Between Post Traumatic Stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress

The fight-or-flight response is a normal physical response to a perceived threat or danger. When someone experiences a traumatic event, their body immediately responds to the situation by releasing stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This response prepares them to fight off the attacker or run away from the danger.

However, when the threat subsides, the body is supposed to return to its normal state. In people with mental disorders like PTSD, this response doesn’t turn off, and the stress hormones continue to flood their system, causing physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and shaking.

PTSD: A Persistent Disruption to Daily Life

The difference between PTS and PTSD is that while PTS symptoms may ease over time, within even just a few weeks, those of PTSD are persistent and disruptive to daily life. The symptoms of PTSD include anxiety, anger, nightmares, avoidance, flashbacks, and constant thinking about the traumatic event. Along with flashbacks, people with PTSD also experience sensory triggers that can trigger vivid memories of the event, such as sounds, smells, places, activities, or environmental factors.

Those who experience PTSD have prolonged disturbing thoughts and other distressing symptoms related to a traumatic event that develops into a mental health disorder. These symptoms can develop immediately or even months/years later, and individuals with PTSD may find it difficult to engage in activities or relationships that they previously enjoyed.

What is PTS: Understanding PTS and PTSD Triggers

Triggers are environmental factors that can remind a person of their trauma, causing them to experience anxiety, fear, and other PTSD symptoms. Some of the most common triggers of mental health problems like PTSD include:

  • Loud sounds that are startling, like cars backfiring, gunshots, or raised voices.
  • Smells associated with the traumatic event, such as smoke, a certain cologne, or any other smell they may have noticed during the traumatic event.
  • Places that were significant during the traumatic event, such as the crime scene or battlefield, or somewhere that reminds the person of the place.
  • Activities that were related to the traumatic event, such as driving if the person was in a car accident
  • Environmental factors such as weather, time of day, or certain seasons.

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Preventing PTSD From Developing

Following a traumatic event, most individuals need a safe place to heal and gather their bearings. However, for some, this can be the beginning of a cycle that eventually transforms into PTSD, a mental health disorder that impacts the sufferer’s cognitive reasoning, emotions, and behavior. Despite the severity of the situation, timely help and support can go a long way in averting PTSD’s progression.

Get Support Quickly If You Notice PTSD Symptoms

In some cases, symptoms of PTSD-like nightmares, flashbacks, and frightening thoughts linger for a few weeks after a traumatic event. Timely and immediate help is crucial in this scenario as the symptoms can worsen and escalate into the full-blown psychiatric disorder known as PTSD.

Talking with a therapist or a licensed counselor at Icarus, whether for residential trauma treatment or outpatient basis, can help you confront your fears, anxiety, and pain, and help you process what has happened more healthily.

What is PTS: The Importance of Avoiding Substance Use

Substance misuse is known to worsen stress reactions, and it is, therefore, important to avoid it entirely. You are more likely to develop PTSD symptoms if you abuse substances such as drugs or alcohol. When people consume these substances, they may feel numb to the pain, but in the long run, this kind of behavior backfires and exacerbates the mental disorder.

Instead, it is crucial to look for healthier coping mechanisms such as exercise, meditation, or socializing with close friends and family.

If you are experiencing both PTS and PTSD and are already self-medicating with substances or alcohol, it is still possible to get successful treatment. For just such situations, Icarus offers a dedicated dual diagnosis treatment program that addresses both situations at once for the best possible chance at lasting recovery.

More PTS and PTSD Treatment Options


For people struggling with PTSD, seeking prompt treatment is essential. Fortunately, several treatment options are available, including the following:

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged exposure therapy (PET) involves working with a therapist to confront the traumatic or stressful event head-on. This therapy involves gradually exposing patients to what triggers their PTSD symptoms, such as describing the event in detail or visualizing it.

The goal of PET is to help individuals develop a sense of control over their PTSD symptoms, changing the way they react to traumatic memories. Research has shown that PET can be highly effective in reducing PTSD symptoms.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized type of therapy that is used for the treatment of PTSD. EMDR therapy involves a trained therapist guiding individuals through a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while recalling traumatic events. It is thought that this stimulation helps to reprocess memories and reduce the intensity of associated emotions, allowing individuals to move forward.

It is important to note that EMDR should only be performed by a trained and licensed therapist.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a type of therapy that involves helping people with PTSD reframe their traumatic experiences. This therapy is typically delivered over a 12-week period and involves educating individuals about the impact PTSD can have on their thoughts and feelings.

As individuals work with a therapist, they learn to look at their trauma through a different lens, reexamining negative beliefs and replacing them with more positive, hopeful ones. Overall, CPT can help people feel more empowered and less helpless as they navigate their way through their trauma symptoms.


While talk therapies can be highly effective, many people turn to medications to help manage PTSD symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline and paroxetine, are often prescribed to help with anxiety, depression, and other mood-related symptoms of PTSD.

These drugs work by enhancing the levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain related to mood regulation. Other medications, such as prazosin, can help alleviate nightmares and sleep disturbances associated with PTSD.

Talk Therapy

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is one way to treat PTSD. It involves talking with a medical professional or a mental health professional. It is an effective way to identify and process emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that may be causing or exacerbating PTSD symptoms.

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Find Support and Recovery from Trauma at Icarus

If you’ve been through a traumatic or stressful event and are experiencing post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any other mental disorder, it can be very challenging. In this situation, it’s important to understand the physical and emotional responses that may follow.

Both post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder can interfere with daily life, but there are effective treatments available to manage symptoms. If you need help getting your life back on track, Icarus Behavioral Health is here for you. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.

All calls to our facility are completely confidential, so please reach out today and get options for yourself and your loved one that will help provide relief and freedom from trauma.

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