Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that is commonly associated with war veterans, but anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can suffer from the symptoms of PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder develops after a terrifying ordeal involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm.
Public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder gained momentum during the Vietnam War, and is often associated with war veterans. The condition can also affect anyone who has experienced trauma. PTSD is more common in women than in men and often affects women who have been abused or battered. This means that domestic violence can cause PTSD. Childhood abuse and feelings of abandonment in childhood can cause PTSD
PTSD can affect the person who experiences harm or the person who witnessed a traumatic event, such as mugging, kidnapping, child abuse, torture, car accidents, explosions, train wrecks, bombings, plane crashes or natural disasters.
Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, hyper vigilance, traumatic dreams, sleeping problems, outbursts of anger, inability to relate to other people, psychological numbing, chronic pain, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, panic attacks, depression, drug abuse, and phobias. Children with PTSD may have trouble concentrating, behavior issues and mental regression. The person with PTSD may feel hopeless and have no sense of future and no expectations.
Many people with PTSD relive the trauma in their thoughts repeatedly. They may think about the incident during the day and have nightmares while they sleep. Flashbacks of the trauma may include visual images, smells, sounds and feeling. Flashbacks are often triggered by everyday events, such as the sound of a car backfiring or a door slamming. The flashback can take the PTSD suffered back in time as they lose touch with reality and experience the traumatic event again in their mind.
Not everybody who lives through a traumatic event develops PTSD. Some people with PTSD recover on their own within months, but for some people PTSD becomes a chronic condition. Some researchers theorize that PTSD physically damages the part of the brain that processes fear. The damage to the brain may contribute to the PTSD symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Health, PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults. The condition can occur at any age. Women are more likely to suffer from PTSD than men. The condition may run in families. PTSD is often accompanies anxiety disorder, depression and substance abuse.
People with the symptoms of PTSD should consult a medical doctor or a psychiatrist for diagnoses and treatment. The doctors may prescribe psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.
Information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have questions or concerns about a medical condition please consult a qualified medical professional
National Institute of Health NIH
The Medical Advisor by Time Life Books
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