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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental disorder that can occur when a person has directly experienced — or even just witnessed — an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event.

Most people with post-traumatic stress disorder repeatedly re-live the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections (flashbacks). Nightmares or recollections may come and go, and a person may be free of them for weeks at a time, and then experience them daily for no particular reason.

Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events can include:

  • Combat or military exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sexual or physical assaults
  • Serious accidents such as a car wreck
  • Natural disasters such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood or earthquake

Symptoms of PSTD:

Some people who go through trauma may have symptoms only initially. Others may develop PTSD over time. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others do not.

Intrusion/Re-Experience: Memories reoccur unexpectedly and episodes called “flashbacks” intrude into daily life. This happens in sudden, vivid memories or nightmares that are accompanied by painful emotions, taking over one’s attention. One may even feel like they’re going through the event again.

Avoidance: Avoiding situations or people that reminds one of a traumatic event. Avoidance symptoms affect relationships. The inability to work out grief and anger means the trauma can continue to affect behavior. Depression is also a common symptom.

Negative alterations in mood: Feeling numb, a distorted sense of blame for one’s self or others related to the event, negative thoughts or beliefs about one’s self worth, memory problems, reduced interest in hobbies and feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from others.

Hyper-Arousal: The brain remains alert, wary and watchful for further threats causing difficulties with concentrating, irritability, temper and sleeping. There is an increased potential of drug and alcohol abuse to blunt the pain, and they may show poor impulse control and be a suicide risk.

Learn more:

Today, there are good treatments available for PTSD. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms associated with a PSTD, reach out to your health care provider. Visit the Psych Central’s website to learn more.

Credit:  Frontier Behavioral Health.  Used with permission.