Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. Symptoms can occur following exposure to an extremely traumatic event. These symptoms include fear, helplessness and horror.

Examples of traumatic events would be:

  • One in which the person or others were threatened with death or serious injury
  • Witnessing the death of or injury to another person
  • Learning about the death of or violence to a family member
  • The sudden destruction of one's home or community
  • Being kidnapped, assaulted, tortured
  • Severe automobile accident
  • Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness

Signs of PTSD

Persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event by:

  • recurrent flashbacks or dreams
  • behavior as if the event were recurring
  • intense distress to events that remind an individual of the trauma

Persistent avoidance or emotionally numb as seen by:

  • efforts to avoid feelings associated with the trauma
  • efforts to avoid activities that arouse memories of the trauma
  • feeling of detachment from others
  • inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
  • impaired ability to feel emotions associated with loving and intimacy

Persistent symptoms of arousal:

  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • feeling irritable, outbursts of anger
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling keyed up or on edge
  • easily startled

This disorder can occur at any age, including childhood. Though the signs usually begin within the first three months after the trauma, there can be delay of months or years before signs appear. To qualify for the diagnosis of PTSD, a number of these signs must be present for more than one month and must cause distress or increased problems in a person's ability to function at work, home, school or socially.

If you or someone you know appears to suffer from PTSD, call for help.