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What Makes PTSD More Likely?

We don't really know why some people develop PTSD and others don't. But there are a few things that put people at more risk:

  • experiencing a prior trauma
  • experiencing child abuse
  • being a woman
  • having a pre-existing mental health condition
  • having a family history of mental illness

Reactions during trauma are also important. Having the following reactions can put a person at higher risk of developing PTSD:

  • believing you will die
  • feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings
  • feeling completely helpless
  • having a panic attack
  • crying uncontrollably

These risk factors after trauma can increase the chance you will develop PTSD:

  • lack of social support
  • experiencing additional life stressors (job loss, divorce)

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Reviewed/Updated Date: June 25, 2012

The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care or individual referrals.