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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

https://www.healthline.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

healthline.com

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Key Ideas

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.

PTSD symptoms

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

  • Intrusion: Flashbacks, where you relive the event. Clear, unpleasant memories or nightmares about the incident and intense distress when you think about the event.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding people, places, or situations that remind you of the event.
  • Arousal and reactivity: Trouble concentrating, easily startled, feeling of being on edge, irritability, moments of anger.
  • Cognition and mood: Negative thoughts, feelings of guilt, worry, blame, trouble remembering parts of the event, reduced interest in activities you enjoyed.

PTSD treatment

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

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or "talk therapy" helps you to process the traumatic event.
  • Exposure therapy lets you re-experience elements of the trauma in a safe environment. It desensitizes you to the event and lessens your symptoms.
  • Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drug**s, and sleep aids** may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

PTSD causes

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

  • Medical PTSD is a life-threatening medical emergency that can be just as traumatic as a natural disaster.
  • Postpartum PTSD: Up to 4% of women experience STD after the birth of their child.

PTSD diagnosis

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:

  • at least one re-experience symptom
  • at least one avoidance symptom
  • at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • at least two cognition and mood symptoms

PSTD subtypes

  • 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 trauma.
  • Uncomplicated PTSD is when you have PTSD symptoms like re-experiencing the traumatic event and avoiding people and places related to the trauma. However, you don’t have any other mental health issues such as depression.
  • Comorbid PTSD involves symptoms of PTSD, along with another mental health disorder like depression, panic disorder, or a substance abuse problem.
  • “With derealization” means a person feels emotionally and physically detached from people and other experiences. They have trouble understanding the realities of their immediate surroundings.
  • “With delayed expression” means a person doesn’t meet the full PTSD criteria until at least six months after the event.

PTSD

  • 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, continued fear and sadness, irritability, avoiding people and places, continued negativity.
  • PTSD in teens. PTSD manifests as aggressive or irritable behavior. Teens may engage in risky activities like substance abuse, to cope. They may be reluctant to talk about their feelings.
  • PSTD dreams. People who lived through intense trauma may have trouble falling asleep. When they do, they may have regular nightmares about the event.

Coping with PTSD

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

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get enough rest and exercise.
  • Avoid anything that increases your stress or anxiety.
  • If you have regular upsetting thoughts, are unable to control your actions, or fear you may hurt yourself or others, seek help right away.
  • Keep in mind that you are not alone. Support is available.

Living with someone with PTSD

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

  • Learn all you can about PTSD so you can support your loved one.
  • Join a support group for family members of people living with PTSD.
  • Try to ensure proper treatment for your loved one.
  • Recognize and accept that living with someone who has PTSD isn't easy. Reach out if you need to.

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