Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many changes in the body to prepare it to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This response is known as a “fight-or-flight” reaction, which is healthy and meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.
Who gets PTSD?
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events.
Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
- Re-experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks, bad dreams or frightening thoughts may be triggered by words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing
- Avoidance symptoms remind a person of the traumatic event and may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
- Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
How is PTSD treated?
PTSD is treated with therapy, medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms. If someone with PTSD is going through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship, both of the problems need to be treated.