Dealing With PTSD After Incarceration

Millions of Americans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that interferes with their everyday lives, causing flashbacks, nightmares, and negative thoughts. However, some get away with no long-term effects. Those trying to avoid these unpredictable triggers find themselves isolated as they might feel misunderstood and intimidated.

Most feel like a paused button has been pushed on their lives, and there is no guarantee they can recover from these conditions. However, that’s not always the case. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you might want to seek evaluation from a mental health expert who will direct you to various treatment procedures like psychotherapy to help victims understand their health implications.

Studies also show that high rates of recidivism among ex-prisoners are likely to suffer from this devastating condition. Many will not realize it until it is late because most inmates remain undiagnosed even after incarceration. The prevalence rate of psychotic illness is estimated to be around 4 percent. However, in the general prison population, 10 percent are male while 14 percent female alleged to exhibit signs of depression.

Does PTSD Ever Go Away Completely?

Most people who have lived through trauma and developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have found medication as a fruitful part of their treatment. PTSD affects most individuals through how they think, act, and interact with others. If the victim of PTSD is misunderstood, it can cause significant distress.

However, the good news is that PTSD is treatable. Several proven cognitive-behavioral therapies help people to approach trauma in the best way possible. These therapies include Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Through these programs, people can change their behavior and thoughts related to bad traumatic experiences to get their lives back. In some instances, medication is used in combination with these treatments. For instance, antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) help victims reduce anxiety, thinking, and depression.

For many Americans battling PTSD, these medications can help reduce any traumatic experience such as agitation, fear, irritability, and sadness. Some medications are meant to help the patient with sleep, nightmares, and other physical symptoms. These medications only make you feel comfortable for some time but don’t treat the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The patient needs to have a conversation with the medical provider on how each medication works and what you should expect. Evidence-based therapies mentioned above are the most effective treatments for addressing and alleviating post-traumatic stress disorders. Sometimes treatments might last for years, or if PTSD is treated, it might find its way back if the victim doesn’t follow the prescriptions well.

What Percentage of Prisoners Have PTSD?

Those involved in common criminal offenses have a high chance of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorders. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, post-traumatic stress disorders range from 0.1 to 27 percent for men and 12 to 38 percent for women inmate populations.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is common in prison, with a lifetime predominance of 17.8 percent among male inmates and 40.1 percent among female inmates. However, only a limited number of studies have been carried out and published. A large number of the prison population with post-traumatic stress disorder is still undiagnosed.

According to a study conducted to point out the PTSD socio-demographic features and specificities, there were similarities between the general and prison populations. The occurrence had a significant prevalence amongst the females as compared to males. There is little knowledge about PTSD diagnosis. Inmates should be screened for any traumatic events they might have been exposed to while in prison or before.

The study also indicated that the high degrees of PTSD among inmates could result from exposure to repetitive traumatic events during childhood. Childhood abuse, humiliation, or emotional neglect are the extreme reasons that trigger Complex-PTSD in many people.

Is Complex PTSD Considered a Permanent Disability?

The effects of traumatizing life events can be devastating, especially the longer they remain unresolved. Research on the effects of chronic, unresolved trauma suggests that if the trauma remains untreated or extended over a long time, it can lead to physical and psychological disability.

Healing yourself from Complex-PTSD takes an awareness of traumatic symptoms and needs a trusted approach to seek treatment. Get an understanding of how Complex-PTSD impacts your health, relationship, and self-esteem. You can respond by addressing your negative feelings and views through body awareness activities for containment, grounding, and a safe place to help you win your life back.

Dive in and make the choice that is going to be you who breaks the cycle. Do not give up no matter how long it takes and how hard it is to visit your therapy sessions.

What Are the Signs You Might Be Suffering from Complex-PTSD

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) refers to the state in which you are severely impacted in the present by the past emotional neglect in your childhood. The PTSD symptoms last for at least a month after the event. Young children are less likely to show distress but instead may express their memories through play. A person with PTSD is at a higher risk for intentional self-harm and suicide.

Here are some of the signs you may be suffering from Complex-PTSD:

A Feeling That Nothing Is Safe

In this scenario, you feel like you have an apprehension that something awful is about to happen wherever you are. This is due to emotional distress and physical reactions that remind you of the past traumatic event.

You are always in a state of restlessness, expecting the catastrophe you are thinking of to fall anytime. You might be hauled away from the current circumstances, humiliated, even put behind bars.

You Can Never Relax 

It shows up in your body as you feel permanently rigid or tense. You might also have trouble being touched, perhaps in particular parts of the body. The idea of performing breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga might not be appealing. Your anxiety will have a severe impact on your digestive system, like having a troubling bowel.

Appalling Self-Image

Deep in yourself, you are horrified and hate who you are. Most of the time, you feel like you are ugly, awful, monstrous, and repulsive. Your sexuality is especially perturbed, making you feel shameful and sickening. The feeling of guilt, blame, and hopelessness about your future haunts you.

You also have negative thoughts about yourself, other people, and the world. It is always, if not challenging, difficult to maintain your relationships. You end up lacking interest in activities you once enjoyed.

Drawing Attention to People Unavailable for You

You are often drawn to highly unavailable people and also tell yourself you hate needy people. However, not knowing that the people you hate are the ones that might be too present for you.

You make a beeline for disengaged people who don’t want refuge from you and those who struggle with their undiagnosed issues. That’s the feeling of detachment from your family and friends.

Highly Paranoid People

You always suspect other people will follow you, be the host, and lookout for opportunities to humiliate and bring you down. Examples of these scenarios happen on social media where the victim feels that the whole world is against them.

Sometimes you will end up losing your temper very easily with some people or more often with yourself.

Trouble Having Sleep

In this state, you get a nap and generally wake up early without an alarm. Nightmares or upsetting dreams could be the reason why you are not getting enough sleep. The only thing you feel is that you’re in much danger, especially if you are alone. Even if you are awake, you are also sickened by the people who want to be cozy with us.

You also don’t want to discuss the event, avoiding places where people will remind you of the traumatic event. Sometimes you suffer from memory problems such as the inability to remember some aspects of the traumatic event.

Having Huge Attractions to Being Alone

You find other people so dangerous and opt to go into hiding. In some moods, you associate bliss with not having to see anyone again ever. A point reaches when you find living so exhausting and unpleasant. Sometimes you do not want to exist anymore.

You are also rigid about your routines since you can’t afford to show much spontaneity. Everything needs to be precisely perfect in an attempt to keep off roaming chaos. In a bid to find safety, you may throw yourself into work to garner wealth, fame, prestige, and honor. However, this never works as a sense of disgust comes from within you that you left unaddressed.


It is eminent that inmates have a significant prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared with the general population varying from 4 percent to 21 percent. However, more females are the most affected with PTSD than their male counterparts.

For ex-offenders to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder after incarceration, it is necessary to provide them with tools for therapy & medical treatment and establish re-entry programs meant to revamp and alleviate the trauma.

Through these programs, victims experiencing the same PTSD experience can share their experiences and come up with solutions to help them reintegrate with society and reduce recidivism. The programs enable ex-prisoners to get an opportunity to work it through and develop solutions that work best for them.