Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that affects a person's mental health. A person typically suffers from PTSD after seeing or experiencing a traumatizing event where grave injury or death is involved. PTSD can be viewed as a severe illness, affecting normal function of a person's everyday life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when a person's natural "fight-or-flight" response reaction is altered or damaged. Those suffering from PTSD may feel constantly stressed or frightened long after the traumatic event has occurred and they are no longer in any form of danger.
Almost anyone can suffer from PTSD at practically any age. From veterans of war, to children who have suffered from abuse, there are numerous factors that can cause someone to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. In some cases, there are those with PTSD who may not have directly suffered through or witnessed a dangerous event, but may have a close friend or family member who is harmed or has passed away under traumatic circumstances.
Certain events are likely to cause PTSD, such as:
These are only a few examples of events that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Again, one does not have to directly experience a traumatic event to trigger PTSD, and having a history of trauma in one's life increases the likelihood of suffering from PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD are commonly broken down into three categories:
Rather than looking for a specific set of symptoms, those caring for someone suffering from PTSD should look for an abnormal pattern of behavior that can fall into any of the three categories of symptoms mentioned above. Should the symptoms persist for a lengthy period of time, professional assistance should be sought immediately.
It is important to recognize signs of PTSD and seek professional treatment as soon as possible to prevent the disorder from progressing after a traumatic experience. There are various forms of treatment available to help people cope with PTSD:
To properly cope with PTSD, it may take one or a combination of these treatment methods. Progression of post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to further complications such as:
Professional help should be sought immediately if there are any signs that a person suffering from PTSD is having thoughts of hurting him or herself. There are numerous social services, mental health specialists, centers, clinics, family services, support groups and hotlines available to assist those suffering from PTSD. Visit the NIMH for further resources on post-traumatic stress disorder in the links below.