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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health disorder that begins after a traumatic event. Events may include:

  • A natural disaster like a tornado
  • Military combat
  • Assault or abuse
  • An accident

PSTD is also known as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue." People with PSTD feel a heightened sense of danger. They are always in the fight-or-flight response mode, causing them to feel stressed or fearful, even in safe situations.

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Words, sounds, or situations that remind you of trauma can trigger your symptoms. Symptom categories:

If you're diagnosed with PTSD, you will likely be prescribed therapy, medication, or both.

  • Acute stress disorder (ASD) isn’t PTSD. It’s a cluster of symptoms like anxiety and avoidance that develop within a month after a traumatic event. Many people with ASD go on to develop PTSD.
  • Dissociative PTSD is when you detach yourself from the tr...

There is no specific test to diagnose PTSD. Diagnoses can be difficult because people may suppress the trauma or may be reluctant to talk about it. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must experience all of the following symptoms for more than a month:

  • Complex PTSD describes the emotional repercussions of continued and long-term trauma or multiple traumas.
  • PTSD in children. Children will generally recover from traumatic events, but some can have PTSD. Symptoms include nightmares, trouble sleeping...

Learn about PTSD to understand your feelings and how to deal with them.

PTSD may cause changes to the brain. People with this disorder have a smaller hippocampus that is responsible for memory and emotion.

PTSD affects those around them. The anger, fear, or other negative emotions can put a strain on the strongest relationships.

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