Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is the result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience severe anxiety, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts about the experience – even when there is no longer any danger.
Often the result of events that threaten death, injury, or sexual assault, people with PTSD have difficulty adjusting and coping in day-to-day functioning. Most PTSD is a combination of mental health conditions (e.g. anxiety or depression), experiencing stress or trauma, and the ways the brain regulates chemicals and hormones in the body. It is very common in military veterans and people engaged in combat, victims of violent crimes or physical abuse, and those who have experienced a natural disaster or traumatic event.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
People with PTSD experience a wide range of symptoms, and they may not appear until years after an event. Symptoms range from mild to severe, impacting work, social situations, and personal relationships. Common symptoms people with PTSD experience include intrusive memories of the event (flashbacks), actively avoiding situations that remind them of the event, negative thoughts or outlooks, and changes in emotions (e.g. being easily frightened or overwhelming feelings of guilt/shame).
Treatment plans for PTSD patients usually include a combination of counseling and medications. With support from mental health professionals, family, and friends, people with PTSD can find ways to cope with normal stress experiences and triggers that can lead to symptoms.