Posttraumatic stress (PTSD) is a common reaction to traumatic or stressful events. Studies indicate 3.5% of the United States (U.S.) population will experience PTSD in any given year. Almost 37% of these cases can be classified as “severe.”
Someone with PTSD may relive a traumatic experience through memories and dreams. They may avoid reminders of the trauma to prevent emotional distress. PTSD can also involve memory issues and a heightened reactivity to one’s surroundings.
PTSD takes many forms. It may happen due to a natural disaster or a personal tragedy. It may arise immediately after an experience or years later. People of any gender, ethnicity, and background can experience it.
WHAT CAUSES PTSD?
PTSD can occur after any type of physically or psychologically stressful event. Situations that may bring about PTSD include:
Sexual abuse or assault
Vicarious trauma, such as learning of the death of a loved one or experiencing an attack as a bystander
Posttraumatic stress is a treatable condition. People with PTSD may wish to contact a therapist. Therapy can help people process distressing emotions and memories. Understanding one’s symptoms is often the first step to reducing them.