Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a serious condition that is a result from a person having experienced or witnessed a traumatic or horrifying event where actual physical harm or threat occurred. It is not simply trauma from a past emotional wound. Most people who experience a traumatic event have emotional reactions such as shock, fear, anger, sadness, and guilt, which are common responses that often naturally go away with time. Not every traumatized person develops PTSD. On the other hand, the experience of PTSD sufferers persists, worsens, and interferes with the person’s daily life. The person may re-experience the trauma through frightening thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares, and would make every attempt to avoid people, places, objects, or situations that are reminders of the traumatic experience. These re-experiences often lead to further feelings of anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, emotional numbness, and/or loss of pleasure in previous enjoyments. It is estimated that about 7.8 million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, and the rate is higher for survivors of rape, ethnically/politically motivated captivity and genocide, veterans, and those whose jobs increase the risk of traumatic exposure.

Associated Features

  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence
  • Involuntary re-experiencing of trauma via memories, dreams, flashbacks
  • Constant avoidance of any association to the traumatic event
  • Magnified guilt and blame of oneself
  • Persistent fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame
  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Diminished interest/participation in daily activities
  • Irritable behavior, angry outbursts, verbal/physical aggression
  • Reckless, self-destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response
  • Problems with memory, concentration
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep