Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event.
PTSD can occur at any age and can follow a natural disaster or other traumatic events such as
- Prison stay
- Domestic abuse
People with PTSD re-experience the event again and again in at least one of several ways. They may have frightening dreams and memories of the event, feel as though they are going through the experience again (flashbacks) or become upset during anniversaries of the event.
The cause of PTSD is unknown, but psychological, genetic, physical and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). Having been exposed to trauma in the past may increase the risk of PTSD.
Treatment aims to reduce symptoms by encouraging patients to recall the event, express your feelings, and gain some sense of control over the experience. In some cases, expressing grief helps to complete the necessary mourning process. Support groups, where people who have had similar experiences can share their feelings, are helpful.
People with PTSD may need to treat depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or related medical conditions before addressing symptoms of PTSD. Behavioral therapy is used to treat avoidance symptoms. This can include being exposed to the object that triggers your symptoms until you become used to it and no longer avoid it
If you think you or someone you know may have PTSD, contact us for a free psychiatric assessment.
For more information on PTSD, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.