What is Trauma & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist attack, war, rape or other violent personal assault. The typical psychological response to a traumatic experience is shock or experiencing acute stress. However, people with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They relive the event through flashbacks and/or nightmares. They also may feel sadness, numb, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.
Living with PTSD can create many emotional challenges, and in some cases, these may be so severe that your health is negatively affected. This makes it critical to address the issue immediately and work to find effective treatments and techniques. A typical PTSD symptom includes being disoriented and unable to comprehend the things that are happening around you. However, as the mind begins to process the traumatic situation, these symptoms typically become less severe and may potentially start to gradually lift.
However, when it comes to PTSD, it is possible for a person to remain in a state of mental shock for a long time. If this happens to you, there is a high potential for symptoms to begin to worsen. The good news is not every individual dealing with a traumatic event will develop PTSD. It is also possible for a person to develop PTSD many years after the trauma. In fact, there have been some cases where severe symptoms only start to develop several days or even years later.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD affects millions and may occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is substantial evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may even be hereditary. If you have family members with PTSD, this makes it more likely that you will also have PTSD at some point in your life.
One of the major concerns for most medical providers is that similar to many other mental health illnesses, PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, and/or anxiety disorders. This can negatively affect the quality of life for any person living with PTSD, so it’s important to treat all co-occurring conditions.