What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given over a period of time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD.

PTSD Symptoms
People with PTSD experience three different categories of symptoms:

  1. The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else.
  2. The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb.
  3. The third set of symptoms includes things such as constantly feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.

In addition to the symptoms described above, we now know that there are clear biological changes that are associated with PTSD. PTSD is complicated by the fact that people with PTSD often may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. These problems may lead to impairment of the person’s ability to function in socially and may result in work problems, marital/relationship problems and family problems.

PTSD can be treated with psychotherapy (“talk” therapy) such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), and medicines such as antidepressants. Early treatment is important and may help reduce long-term symptoms. Unfortunately, many people do not know that they have PTSD or do not seek treatment.

Do you think you may have PTSD?
If you think you have PTSD there are a number of things you can do. You can also explore the Web Link Resources; Take the Four Question PTSD Screener or Do You Need Help pages. You may also want to be evaluated for PTSD by psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker specifically trained to assess psychological problems. You could also discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Talk to your doctor about the possible treatments for you.

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