At one time or another, we will experience something traumatic. Often, these terrifying events are unforeseen. Regardless of whether they begin and end in an instant or happen over time, the effects of trauma can last for the rest of our lives. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by anxiety from previous traumatic events and can affect anyone who is predisposed at any stage in their lives. The most common symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks of the event, depression and increased irritability.
Rape victims may experience reoccurring nightmares and relive the attack for years after the incident. It is not uncommon for war veterans—especially those who have experienced combat—to have long-lasting anxiety, flashbacks or angry outbursts. Children who are trauma victims or witnesses of abuse may withdraw from friends, refuse to talk or experience frequent stomach aches.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, post-traumatic stress disorder affects 7.7 million adults. However, women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. The symptoms of PTSD can range from mild to severe and usually begin within three months of the frightening ordeal.
Types of PTSD
There are four types of post-traumatic stress disorder:
Symptoms last for more than three months, disappear for a few days, and then reappear. The degree of post-traumatic stress disorder varies among individuals. Some people experience mild symptoms—such as irritability—while others are debilitated by the co-occurring disorders (also known as dual diagnosis) that often accompany PTSD, such as substance abuse, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional to treat the dual diagnosis to facilitate a full recovery.
Common Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Below is a list of some of the common signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:
Reliving the trauma
Loss of interest in activities
Phobias of people/places
Avoiding thoughts about the event
Memory problems surrounding the event
(Because these symptoms in and of themselves do not always indicate the presence of PTSD, please contact your physician or mental health treatment provider to obtain an accurate diagnosis.)
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