Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by traumatic experiences such as war, rape, child abuse, terrorism and natural disasters.  PTSD often takes time to manifest.

Veterans returning home from war often experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Some seemed fine when they first arrived at home, but later developed the symptoms of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories: 1

1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity

- Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
- Repeated upsetting memories of the event
- Repeated nightmares of the event
- Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event

2. Avoidance

- Avoiding stimuli associated with the event
- Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't care about anything
- Feeling detached
- Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
-Showing less of your moods
- Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
- Feeling like you have no future

3. . Arousal

-Difficulty concentrating
-Difficulty falling or staying asleep

You might feel guilt about the event (including survivor guilt) and you might also have other anxiety symptoms such as agitation, dizziness, fainting, rapid heartbeat and headache.

Formal diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Other than the traumatic event, other contributing factors are unknown. Why, for example, do some people develop PTSD when others who suffered the exact same trauma do not?

Researchers believe that genes and other physical factors play a role, as well as psychological factors. Sensitive personalities, for example, are most susceptible.

Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder

PTSD affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).  Most sufferers – especially those with severe PTSD, get best results from a combination of medication and psychological therapy,

Recovering from PTSD can be a long and difficult journey. People with PTSD need time to heal, and the understanding and support of family and friends.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, see your doctor. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency ward.

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1. U.S. Library of Medicine on the National Instittue of Mental Health website , and Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.



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