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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Mental Health Mental Health Arrow to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorderWhat is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is the result of any event that causes extreme fear and anxiety.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, war experiences, victims of crime, catastrophic injuries, plane crashes, car accidents or childhood trauma can bring on some of the most common symptoms.

As in the case of the 911 attack in New York City, the anniversary of the event may be especially painful. Similarly, any evocative circumstance, such as a car backfire or explosion, may set off memories in war veterans.

War veterans, in fact, were the first to call widespread attention to the condition, especially during the post-Vietnam War era. Today, according to a 2008 study, a high percentage of armed forces Iraq War veterans (or 1 in 5) also suffer from major depression or "post-deployment" stress.

PTSD symptoms

house damage caused by tornado
Along with physical damage,
natural disasters can leave long-
lasting psychological effects.

Unlike typical stress symptoms, a person may be suffering from post-traumatic stress may show emotional detachment and numbness. They may also experience insomnia, nightmares and persistent and frightening flashbacks as the mind and emotions try to process and reprocess what has happened following the event.

Depending on the person, and the emotional support found in friends and family, recovery may be quick and assured. In other cases, as when symptoms go unrecognized, a person suffering from the disorder may resort to violent behavior, exhibit related eating disorders, or descend into alcoholism or drug abuse.

In some cases, a person who has lived through a traumatic incident may initially exhibit no symptoms for weeks or months afterwards.

In other cases it may take years, as sometimes seen in victims of child abuse who may "bury" the incident until reaching adulthood.

PTSD treatment

With increased awareness of the condition, schools and hospitals are better equipped with information and public service classes providing increased emotional support, especially for victims of public disasters.

Treatment of post traumatic stress disorder may include certain drugs such as antidepressants, along with psychotherapy similar to that used in treatment of anxiety or panic disorder.

More about post-traumatic stress disorder around the Web:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome (PTSD)
National Institutes of Health guide to the topic with an overview of symptoms, treatment and where to get help in the U.S.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Wikipedia - An overview of the history of the condition, along with modern day diagnosis and treatment, related references and resources.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - First person account by a Vietnam War veteran with information on symptoms, therapy and treatment, suggested reading.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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