Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia is “a type of anxiety disorder which can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.” While PTSD is generally diagnosed in men and women who have served in the military during combat, PTSD can occur in anyone at any age. It can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as:
Some people who were involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have shown symptoms of PTSD. The disorder has even been seen in people who saw the disaster and people who lost relatives and friends.
PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.
The symptoms of PTSD can show up suddenly, gradually, or over time. Sometimes symptoms seem to come out of the blue or they may be triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, like a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms:
1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma
Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
Feeling jumpy and easily startled
PTSD is treatable. Those who suffer from PTSD can and do lead normal lives, but many need assistance in dealing with the anxiety. If you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms, please contact your primary care physician immediately. There is help through medical and hypnotherapeutic means. Don’t suffer in the dark, alone. Get help today.