Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that occurs in some people after the occurrence of a highly stressful, shocking, scary, or traumatic event. Doctors do not know why certain people’s bodies react to stress to result in PTSD, but for those individuals, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can interrupt their day-to-day functioning and disrupt their lives.
PTSD symptoms may start right away following a traumatic event, or they may not appear until months or years afterward. These symptoms can generally be grouped into four types:
Intrusive memories: a recurrent, unwanted “reliving” of the event through flashbacks, dreams, and/or nightmares; emotional distress or physical reactions when something is a reminder of the traumatic event.
Avoidance: avoiding people, places, or activities that bring reminders of the event.
Negative changes in thinking and mood: negative feelings about self, other people, or the world in general; hopelessness; difficulty maintaining relationships; detachment from family and friends; feeling emotionally numb.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions: being easily frightened or startled; always being “on guard” for danger; trouble sleeping; irritability; angry outbursts or aggressive behavior; self-destructive behavior with alcohol or drug abuse; overwhelming guilt or shame.
PTSD symptoms typically vary in intensity over time. People have “good periods,” and then they have “bad periods.” When the “bad periods” become more common, become intense, and/or disrupt life, it is time to seek help. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
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