PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by your memories of a traumatic event — an event that directly affected you or an event that you witnessed.

The disorder commonly affects survivors of traumatic events, such as sexual assault, physical assault, war, torture, a natural disaster, an automobile accident, an airplane crash, a hostage situation or a death camp.  Post-traumatic stress disorder also can affect rescue workers at the site of an airplane crash or a mass shooting.  It can affect someone who witnessed a tragic accident.

Not everyone involved in a traumatic event experiences post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the disorder affects more than 5 million adults each year in the United States. Post-traumatic stress disorder is twice as common in women as it is in men.

Treatment may involve a combined approach including medications and behavior therapy designed to help you gain control of your anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder typically appear within three months of the traumatic event.  However, in some instances, they may not occur until years after the event and may include:

  • Flashbacks and distressing dreams associated with the traumatic event.
  • Distress at anniversaries of the trauma.
  • Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, and activities associated with the trauma.
  • Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others and an inability to have loving feelings.
  • Markedly diminished interest or participation in activities that once were an important source of satisfaction.
  • In young children, delayed or developmental retrogression in such areas as toilet training, motor skills and language.
  • Hopelessness about the future — no hope of a family life, career or living to old age.
  • Physical and psychological hypersensitivity — not present before the trauma — with at least two of the following reactions: trouble sleeping, anger, difficulty concentrating, exaggerated startle response to noise, and physiological reaction to situations that remind you of the traumatic event. These physiological reactions may include an increase in blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea and diarrhea.