What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that impacts 7.7 million American adults. The disorder can also develop in children as well and is more common in women than men. It is a disorder that commonly develops in response to a trauma or repeated traumas in which a person may have felt their life was threatened. PTSD was first documented among veterans of war who were exposed to combat firsthand, but this disorder can also impact those who have merely witnessed a violent crime or assault. Not every traumatized person develops full-blown or even minor PTSD. Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the incident but occasionally emerge years afterward. They must last more than a month to be considered PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can be particularly insidious and can drastically and negatively impact a person’s life. Below are symptoms of PTSD:

The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in (or more) of the following ways:

  1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
  2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.
  3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
  4. Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  5. Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

  1. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.
  2. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
  3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
  4. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  5. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
  6. Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
  7. Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)

Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:

  1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  2. Irritability or outbursts of anger
  3. Difficulty concentrating
  4. Hypervigilance
  5. Exaggerated startle response


PTSD is a serious and life altering condition that in most cases will NOT abate on its own. If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, contact a mental health professional as soon as possible to initiate treatment. (Some information obtained from www.healthyplace.com)

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