This is part of a series on mental health and well-being in the music scene.
Put simply, PTSD makes life harder to live. In our cultural imagination, it’s often associated with troops who witnessed something heinous on the battlefield. Starting with the classification of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the DSM–III — the 1980 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s main toolkit for cataloging and diagnosing mental disorders — the mental health establishment started to recognize the psychiatric impact of traumatic events. “Battle fatigue” morphed into something the American medical establishment considered treatable.
If you’re interested in reading about the DSM–V’s criteria for PTSD you can read about it on the US Department of Veterans Affairs site. You’ll find that the current criteria is really geared towards people who have lived through a specific traumatic event. This criteria doesn’t necessarily account for the effects of trauma sustained over a period of time, such as sustained child sexual abuse, long-term domestic abuse, or years of experiencing intense homophobia or transphobia.
This guide will cover two forms of PTSD and discuss treatment of each. At the end, are some resources for finding mental health professionals.
It may seems peculiar for a music publication to cover a topic like treating PTSD. While there absolutely no reason to believe that PTSD affects musicians disproportionately from the rest of the population, the fact of the matter is that trauma can be so much of what drives a person to lose them, her, or himself in music or a music scene and that, conversely, a music scene can lead directly to trauma, be that by sexual violence, drug abuse, or something catastrophic like the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
So while musicians are likely not disproportionately afflicted by PTSD, musicians are nonetheless affected.
What is the nature of your trauma?
PTSD takes two main forms.
The first is the kind we think of when we think about soldiers, EMTs, and natural disaster survivors. This is PTSD as outlined in the DSM–V and is very much so incident based.