PTSD Research Reveals 4 Surprising Insights You Need to Know

PTSD Lessons

There has been some interesting new research about PTSD, and there are some lessons about PTSD that we can learn. Let’s find out what the new PTSD research is all about.

Want to learn four essential aspects of PTSD that come from a world-renowned expert in the field?

Interested in knowing whether therapy for PTSD is worth the money and effort?

Curious about how PTSD may be different depending upon differences in the trauma that gives rise to this struggle?

Or maybe you would just like some encouragement because you, or someone you love, is battling PTSD?

You said yes? Good. You’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get started.

Related: 17 Warning Signs Of Complex PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

A PTSD Researcher Speaks Out

The Psychiatric Times recently published an interview by Heidi Anne Duerr with doctor Armen K. Goenjian, a research psychiatrist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He has studied the short and long-term impact of PTSD. In particular, he has closely examined PTSD arising from natural disasters (think of the recent carnage created by tornados in Nashville Tennessee).

PRSD research
Lessons about PTSD

In 1988 Armenia experienced two earthquakes in a single day that killed 60,000 people and destroyed half a million buildings. Many of the survivors were psychologically traumatized as a result.

As one would expect there were also many people who were profoundly affected by grief from the loss of family and friends. Goenjian found that those individuals who received trauma-focused therapy within 18 months after the earthquakes had much fewer symptoms, and less intense symptoms, of PTSD than those who did not receive therapy.

This is consistent with other studies as well.

The benefits of therapy generally persisted for years. Even when participants were interviewed years later the gains they had made continued to be present.

PTSD: Vulnerable Genes?

Another interesting insight that Dr. Goenjian mentioned is that there appears to be a genetic component regarding one’s vulnerability to PTSD. This should not be surprising.

Other research shows, for instance, that women are much more likely to experience PTSD than men.

This is true even though women as a group are found to be exposed to traumatic events less often than men.

Although this is not conclusive, it certainly suggests that differences in genetics play a role in one’s response to traumatic events.

So, again, it is not surprising when Goenjian asserts that genetics represents 40% of the influence determining whether someone develops PTSD.

But we should keep in mind that research on PTSD and genetics is still growing.

This is only an estimate.  Other studies put the genetic influence of developing PTSD after exposure to trauma at between 5 and 20%

To muddy the water a little further, still other studies of twins show 24 to 72% heritability.

Although the exact size of genetic influence can be argued, what has become clear is that genes play a robust role in determining who responds to trauma by developing PTSD symptoms.

Related: 10 Anxious Behaviors That Could Actually Be Trauma Responses

Does PTSD Symptoms Differ Depending On How Someone Was Traumatized?

On a final note I want to mention that for many years, researchers have debated whether PTSD is the same when the trauma arises due to natural events (i.e., hurricanes, earthquakes) versus human behavior (i.e., rape, war).

Many believed that trauma created by other people was worse. It is one thing to be confronted by the terrible indiscriminate power of nature. It is another to be confronted by evil, harnessed to an individual’s anger, lust, greed, or sadistic bent.

The argument for the distinction being made is logical. It carries some merit. But what does the research evidence say?

Goenjian gives a well-thought-out answer: “Survivors of [human] violence and natural disasters have many similar PTSD symptoms. In both categories, survivors will experience recurrent intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, guilt feelings, and mistrust.

However, the contents of their thoughts will vary depending on their experiences. Other symptoms are also similar, e.g., insomnia, poor concentration, anger, jumpiness, etc. In cases of sexual abuse and rape, there may be more dissociative states, detachment, depersonalization, feeling of defilement, loss of confidence, and self-loathing.”

One might conclude that ‘all things being equal’ the trauma perpetuated by another person is greater than that which occurs due to natural causes.

The ‘feeling of defilement, loss of confidence, and self-loathing’ are in addition to all the other common trauma reactions (nightmares, hypervigilance, guilt, flashbacks, etc.).

So in that regard, the source of the trauma makes a huge difference (for example, in how one might respond to a loved one who has been traumatized).

But here is the thing, there is no way to judge whether ‘all things are equal’ when comparing two specific trauma events, one due to natural causes and the other due to human action. As the saying goes, this is comparing apples to oranges, carrots to cucumbers, or asparagus to onions. You get the idea.

As Goenjian noted in that same article “One form of trauma does not necessarily cause more severe PTSD than the other. The severity depends upon the intensity of the trauma, the individual, how many times the traumatic event was repeated, and other factors.”


There are four main things I want you to take away from the above discussion:

1. If you, or someone you love, has experienced a traumatic event and have begun to show symptoms of PTSD (e.g., more anxious, intrusive thoughts/memories, being on guard more, disturbed sleep, diminished concentration), get help.

The assistance you receive may change the arc of your life. Don’t wait, don’t debate it, just get it done. Finding the right therapist, one that has experience helping people with PTSD (and with whom you feel a connection) is important: there are practical guides available to help you in selecting a therapist.  

Related: 30+ Interesting Facts About PTSD

2. Your response to traumatic events will depend in part upon your genetics. Don’t take it personally. Don’t attach a lot of useless meanings to your being someone who is struggling with PTSD. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign that you are defective. It’s not a sign that you are forever damaged.

PTSD symptoms are a sign that your brain has switched to ‘high alert’ mode most (perhaps all) of the time. It’s a protective response, but unproductive. If you were still in the trauma situation it would be helpful.

You’re not, so it is a harmful response (because you are in some ways acting/feeling as though the danger is ever present even when you are safe… not a good reality/response match).

Again, your genetics may be such that they are heightening the intensity of your response to trauma. That will not prevent you from dialing things down and getting back to normal, back to your baseline.

3. Trauma created by humans, versus nature, may create different PTSD responses (distrust of others, self-loathing, a feeling of defilement), in addition to the typical PTSD responses (intrusive memories, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, loss of concentration).

Both sources of trauma are capable of creating devastating effects. One is not necessarily worse than the other.

The importance of understanding how different sources of trauma might affect a person is that this knowledge helps to guide therapy. So, make sure to work with a therapist who is aware of this distinction.

4. If you have been traumatized it can feel as though you have lost a large part of who you were prior to the trauma. A sense of helplessness and defeat may have begun to settle into your life.

Only you can turn things around. That’s good news. You are not dependent on waiting for others to pull you out of this emotional ditch. You can do it yourself.

Is it easy? Hell no. It’s very difficult most of the time to claw your way back from PTSD. But the options of not doing so are pretty grim. What, live the rest of your life being miserable? Not a chance.

Whether the trauma you faced was man-made or brought on by nature, you decide what your response will now be. Having been victimized by traumatic events does not mean you live life as a victim. That is a deadly mindset.

Related: Broadening Our Understanding of Trauma: Why Context Matters

Resolve to fight back, to win your life back, to become stronger as a result of the trauma. Do this, grab on to this perspective as though your life depended on it. Before long you will start getting traction, making forward, and begin to view yourself as a victor, not a victim.

In the end, you’ll look back and see yourself as someone who, when confronted with a tremendous challenge, mustered the grit, persistence, faith, and unwavering resolve to triumph over crushing obstacles.

I’ve seen many people fight this battle and win. You also can end up victorious in your fight against PTSD. So what are you waiting for, go get after it!

PTSD research: 4 things to know about ptsd
Lessons about PTSD

If you want to read more blogs by Forrest Talley, then visit his website, Forrest Talley.

Written By Forrest Talley
Originally Appeared In Forrest Talley
PTSD research: 4 things to know about ptsd pin
PTSD research and lessons about PTSD

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

23 Dark Signs Of Religious Trauma and How to Heal

Dark Signs Of Religious Trauma Syndrome and How to Heal

Ever felt a tug at your soul or questioned your beliefs? Let’s explore the lesser-known signs of religious trauma and how to reclaim your peace from its impact.

If there’s any topic that has impacted my life so deeply – and yet I’ve been putting off writing for over ten years – it’s religious trauma.

The topic of religious trauma is such an inflammatory topic, and one that has harmed so many people, that I’m going to try and approach it as delicately as I can.

Religious trauma is pervasive and more widespread than I believe most people are aware of. After all, the foundation of most modern societies are based on religious ideals, whether you live in the east or west.

So to get this out of the way be

Up Next

The 5 Most Common Trauma Responses: Beyond Flight or Fright

The Common Trauma Responses: Beyond Fight Or Flight

Childhood trauma responses in adults can show up in various ways, and understanding trauma responses is the key to gradually healing from the pain you have been through. This article is going to talk about the five most common trauma responses, how they manifest, and what you can do to deal with them.

I have learned so much about the brain of a trauma survivor over the past year and a half, and more so about how my brain works. Understanding the “why” behind some of my actions and responses to certain things has been super empowering.

I feel like one of the most profound takeaways has been understanding that PTSD is less of a disorder and is more like a brain injury.


Up Next

8 Harmful Signs of Mental Illness in Women: A Comprehensive Guide For Identifying Red Flags

Harmful Signs of Mental Illness in Women And Treatment

Recognizing the signs of mental illness in women is crucial when addressing specific mental health issues that women face. It’s crucial to understand that the causes of these struggles affect not only women but everyone, and yet, our experiences can be uniquely different.

Mental illness, also known as mental health disorders, includes a variety of conditions that impact your mood, thoughts, and behavior. From depression and anxiety disorders to schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

However, researchers have identified that although all genders suffer from mental health issues, women in particular show completely different symptoms and impa

Up Next

Breaking Down What is Autophobia and Ways To Conquer Your Fear of Loneliness

What is Autophobia? Core Causes, Symptoms and Ways To Deal

Are you afraid of going back home simply because it is empty?  In other words, you might be showing signs of what is autophobia.

The symptoms of autophobia can make you feel really scared and leave you anxious about your surroundings! It can make you feel alone even within a room full of people!

This article will help you get a handle on what is autophobia and how to face it. We will also provide you with what causes autophobia as it will help you to identify the source of your fears!

But first, let us look at what is autophobia.

What Is Autophobia


Up Next

What is Somatic Therapy: 5 Somatic Exercises To Release Trauma

Somatic Exercises to Release Trauma

Have you ever wondered how the body and mind can hold onto traumatic experiences long after they have occurred? The effects of trauma can be far-reaching, impacting our emotional well-being, physical health, and overall quality of life. However, there is hope for healing and reclaiming a sense of inner balance through somatic exercises to release trauma.

Let us as we delve into the realm of somatic healing and explore the transformative power of somatic therapy, somatic processing therapy, somatic experiencing techniques, and somatic therapy exercises. 

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing (

Up Next

7 Alarming Signs You Are in Trauma Denial and How to Recover From It

What is Trauma Denial | Alarming Signs and How to Recover

Have you ever found yourself facing difficulty in acknowledging the gravity of your experiences? Do you sense an internal resistance that is causing trauma denial? 

Let’s look at some signs of denial after trauma that show you might be doing this and figure out how to resolve past trauma. We will also help you understand trauma denial by showcasing the movie, ‘Shutter Island’ and how trauma denial can affect a person.

But first, let us understand in detail what is trauma denial. 

What is Trauma Denial?

Trauma denial is a way our minds try to handle really tough experiences. It’s like putting up a wall between ourselves and something too painful to deal with. 

Up Next

Understanding and Managing Anguish: 7 Powerful Tips To Turn Suffering into Strength

Anguish Meaning | How Does Anguish Feel Like and How To Deal

Have you felt severe mental issues causing physical pain or suffering? Amidst the turmoil of life’s understanding, the anguish meaning could be your way of finding solace. 

We will explore the meaning of anguish and how it differs from anxiety. We will help you learn what does anguish feels like for people going through mental issues. 

In order to provide you with some peace we will also provide you with 7 pathways on how to deal with anguish. 

Anguish Meaning

Imagine a feeling so overwhelming that it seems to tig