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HomeHealth NewsShock data indicates college student PTSD cases increased in 5 years

Shock data indicates college student PTSD cases increased in 5 years

  • PTSD diagnoses among college students doubled in five years
  • Pandemic and societal stressors contributed to the increase
  • Concerns over “over-medicalization” of younger generation

According to data, the number of PTSD diagnoses among college students has more than doubled in the past five years, even though these diagnoses are typically associated with combat veterans.

In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, researchers discovered that 7.5 per cent of pupils reported experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a significant increase from the 3.4 per cent reported in 2017.

Most of the increase was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic when campuses were closed, and numerous students had to remain at home or wear face masks in class.

According to researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the condition’s definition was relaxed in 2013, contributing to the increase.

However, they have also proposed that “broader societal stressors,” including school massacres and social media, may be responsible.

This has provoked concerns from certain quarters regarding the “over-medicalization” of the younger generation, with the suggestion that this increase is comparable to the narrative associated with other conditions, such as anxiety.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is precipitated by the experience or observation of a traumatic event, resulting in persistent and distressing thoughts.

However, in 2013, the definition was expanded to encompass dysphoria, which is a profound sense of unease, and a pessimistic perspective, which may be mistaken for the presence of melancholy.

It is not diagnosed through a single test; patients undergo a mental assessment with a physician before receiving a diagnosis.

The increase was disclosed in a research letter published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Data from over 390,000 college students, including 18,000 who reported a PTSD diagnosis, was analyzed by scientists for the research.

The Healthy Minds Study, an annual web-based survey conducted by the University of Michigan to monitor mental health in the United States, was used to extract data.

The results were subsequently analyzed to estimate the prevalence of PTSD in college students or the proportion of the group diagnosed with the condition. The results were also adjusted for gender, economic status, and degree level.

The results also indicated a rise in the prevalence of acute stress disorder, a condition that is similar to anxiety, which increased from 0.2 to 0.7 per cent in young individuals.

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The paper’s primary author and counsellor, Yusen Shai, told the New York Times, “The magnitude of the rise is shocking.”

Dr. Shannon Cusack, a psychologist in Virginia, further stated that there was a disagreement within the profession regarding the classification of patients experiencing distress as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“They are causing symptoms that are consistent with the PTSD diagnosis,” stated Dr. Cusack.

Is it possible that I will not provide treatment for them because their stressor does not qualify as a trauma?

According to estimates, five per cent of individuals in the United States are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is associated with a stressful event. Seven per cent of veterans are diagnosed with the condition during their careers.

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