Young gang members also prone to PTSD, says study

Young gang members also prone to PTSD, says study

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has long been associated with war veterans, who develop this mental disorder due to exposure to violence, bloodshed and mayhem at the war front. However, the condition is also common among female victims of domestic violence, physical assault or sexual harassment. And now, a recent study has identified the mental disorder to be a growing problem among young gang members as well.

According to the study, published in the Criminal Justice and Behavior, the act of killing or perpetrating violence can be more traumatic for the person committing it than for the victim. Therefore, young gang members are at a higher risk of developing PTSD, as they constantly witness trauma and violence. Also, the dual threat of becoming a victim of the violence and crime and perpetrating the crime and violence to prove their loyalty to the gang adds to the pressure and obligation on them. This further increases the trauma, increasing their risk of suffering from PTSD.

PTSD affects over 14 million American adults in a given year. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental disorders prevents people from talking about this debilitating mental illness. In order to tackle the problem, it is important to spread awareness about the disorder and educate the public.

Trauma, and violence and gang members have a two-way relationship

The risk of developing the mental disorder is equal for both the victim as well the offender. According to experts, the condition occurs due to the psychological reaction of helplessness, shame, anger and guilt experienced during a traumatic or violent exposure.

Trauma and violence have a two-way relationship with young gang members. Firstly, they often join the gang because of their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) which may include sexual and physical assault, abandonment and domestic violence at the hands of parents. Secondly, they witness trauma and violence after joining the gang. They are either victims or perpetrators of violence. In both the conditions, they experience continuous violence and trauma.

Trauma can lead to PTSD

So far, PTSD has been largely associated with war veterans; however, experts have identified that trauma, even in the form of domestic violence, sexual harassment like rape or troubled childhood can lead to the mental disorder. In fact, researchers believe that a single non-violent traumatic event has the potential to cause an equal or more negative impact on the brain compared to a violent experience.

According to the National Centers for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a traumatic event can lead to lasting changes in brain areas, with PTSD becoming a life-long problem in many patients. Explaining further, experts pointed that stressful life events (small or massive) can become a major risk factor for the development of neuropsychiatric disorders.

PTSD can be treated

People who experience trauma run a higher risk of suffering from PTSD, but it is not necessary that all those people who face trauma will have PTSD. Fortunately, it is possible to treat PTSD with the help of timely professional intervention. Depending on the severity of the condition, PTSD can be treated with medications, counselling sessions and alternative therapies or a combination of all the three.

If you or a loved one is battling PTSD and is looking for credible mental health treatment centers in your vicinity, contact the California Mental Health Helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 559-3923 or chat online with our experts to know more about state-of-the-art, yet affordable mental health centers in California and other states. Our representatives can connect you with the desired facility and guide you through the admission process.

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