Delayed-Onset PTSD

What Is Delayed-Onset PTSD And Why Does It Occur?

What is PTSD?


By definition, post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in individuals that experience or witness a traumatic event. It is one of the most common disabilities veterans struggle with after returning to civilian life. Unfortunately, PTSD often goes undiagnosed or has a late response and is referred to as delayed-onset PTSD. 


Delayed-Onset PTSD


Delayed-onset PTSD is a common situation where the person who experienced a traumatic event in their life doesn’t develop a PTSD diagnosis until at least six months after the event occurs. The most at-risk people are those who experience some PTSD symptoms but not enough to meet the full diagnosis criteria (also known as subthreshold PTSD). It could take years for the trauma to affect the person enough to become a complete diagnosis in some cases. 


So why does this happen?


Though much research has been done, it’s still up in the air why PTSD can sometimes take a long time to present itself. Here’s what we know:

Our brains are incredibly adaptive, and when something traumatic happens in our lives, our brain might try to store that particular event away to protect itself. However, sometimes adding new stress to your life or a new trauma occurs, the prior trauma can spill out. 


PTSD Triggers


PTSD has many triggers from words, smells, sounds, visuals, stress, and loss. Any of these triggers can upset prior traumas and make PTSD more prominent. Veterans dealing with symptoms, we advise you to get assistance.

If you are at high risk for developing PTSD, it’s important to address your symptoms head-on using healthy coping strategies. For example: speak with a mental health professional or avoid turning to avoidance or substance use- which will likely make matters worse. 




Here are some resources for veterans struggling with PTSD:

Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

VA PTSD line: 866-948-7880 or send an email to [email protected]

Veteran Families United 1-800-342-9647 to speak to a counselor


For more information contact us. 

Written by Advice for Veterans

Dedicated To helping fellow Veterans

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