Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is an anxiety disorder in which a person is exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one or more of the following ways: Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s); Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others; Learning that the traumatic events occurred to a close family member or close friend (in situations of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the events must have been violent or accidental); Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s), such as adults that continue to experience abuse or witness abuse at home, work, relationally, and socially.
Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has experienced a dangerous event. Some experiences, such as the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. In addition, Cancer or other serious medical conditions may cause PTSD. Symptoms typically begin early, within three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last longer than a month and be severe enough to create difficulties with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of PTSD varies. Some people recover within six months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, PTSD may become chronic.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must experience all of the following for a minimum of one month: At least one re-experiencing symptom; At least one avoidance symptom; At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms; At least two cognition and mood symptoms.
Re-experiencing symptoms include: Flashbacks- reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms such as a racing heart or sweating.
Avoidance symptoms include: Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience.
Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms include: Being easily startled.
Feeling tense or on edge
Having difficulty sleeping
Having angry outburst
Cognition and mood symptoms include: Difficulty remembering key features of the traumatic event.
Negative thoughts about oneself or the world.
Distorted feelings such as guilt or blame.
Loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
Overall, people who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.