Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Definition

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an Anxiety Disorder that can occur after an individual has seen or experienced a traumatic event involving the threat of injury or death. Traumatic events can include: natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist incidents, sudden death of a loved one, war, and violent personal assaults, among others. An individual with PTSD suffers from symptoms for at least one month after the traumatic event.

Symptoms

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three broad categories: re-experiencing the trauma (images, flashbacks, nightmares), emotional numbness and avoidance (of things, people, or places that remind the individual of the trauma), and increased arousal (difficulty sleeping, concentrating, feeling jumpy, being easily irritated and angered). While some individuals may immediately begin experiencing symptoms of PTSD, others may not experience symptoms for six months or more after the event. Guilt, depression, and sudden outbursts of aggressive behavior may also surface over time.

Prevalence

An estimated 7.7 million (5-8%) American adults have PTSD, with women being twice as likely to develop PTSD as men. Children can also develop PTSD.

Treatment

The main treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy and medication. In psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often helpful. CBT helps the sufferer process the traumatic event in a safe and controlled way, allowing him or her to cognitively make sense of the trauma.