Could You Have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after a person has experienced or has been exposed to a traumatic event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD may result from a traumatic occurrence such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster and may cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror.*

When a person experiences a traumatic event they may have reactions such as, shock, anger, nervousness, fear, or even guilt. These reactions are common; and for most people, they will disappear over time. People with PTSD have symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as before the event occurred. These feelings may get worse and make it hard to live a normal life.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD will generally begin within three months of the event, but in some cases a delayed onset may occur even a year or more later. Since everybody responds differently, the severity and duration of the illness may vary.

There are three main types of symptoms:

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event (e.g., flashbacks, intrusive upsetting memories, of the event, nightmares, intense physical reactions, and intense distress when reminded of the trauma)
  2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma (e.g., avoiding activities, places, and thoughts that remind you of the trauma, inability to remember important aspects for the trauma, loss of interest in activities, detached feeling towards others, and a sense of limited future)
  3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, feeling jumpy or easily startled)

Symptoms of PTSD in Children and Adolescents-presents differently

  • Fear of being separated from a parent
  • Losing previously-acquired skills (such as toilet training)
  • Sleep problems and nightmares without recognizable content
  • Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated
  • New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as a fear of monsters)
  • Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings
  • Aches and pains with no apparent cause
  • Irritability and aggression

Should You Seek Help?

If you believe you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, the earlier you seek treatment the better. Seek out a therapist who specializes in posttraumatic stress disorder and is a person that you feel comfortable working with.

There are also ways to help you or your family member improve on the ability to cope with PTSD or any of life’s other challenges, the Mayo Clinic suggests you:

  • Get connected by building strong, positive relationships.
  • Make every day meaningful by looking toward the future.
  • Learn from experience by remembering how you overcame a similar experience.
  • Remain hopeful by accepting and anticipating changes throughout life.
  • Take care of yourself by practicing relaxation techniques, eating healthy and doing the activities you enjoy.
  • Be proactive by addressing your problems and seeking professional help if needed.

For more information regarding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder please visit the following Web sites:

* Diagnostic Statistical Manual