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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


PTSD can follow an exposure to a traumatic event such as seen in combat, a sexual or physical assault, witnessing a death, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, disaster or terrorist activity/attack. There are three main symptoms associated with PTSD: "reliving" of the traumatic event (such as flashbacks and nightmares); avoidance behaviors (such as avoiding places related to the trauma) and emotional numbing (detachment from others, blunted or delayed interactions/less expressive); and psychophysiological arousal or hypersensitivity (such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, "jumpy," hypervigilance, irritability and outbursts of anger). Other physical symptoms may be exhibited, such as headaches and stomach or intestinal problems and irregularities.


Symptoms usually begin within three months to, in some cases, after several years have past. The anniversary of the trauma or the experience of an additional traumatic event may trigger or exacerbate symptoms that can vary in frequency and intensity over time. When the aftermath of a traumatic experience interferes with normal functioning, the person may be suffering from PTSD. People who have experienced previous traumatic events run a higher risk of developing the disorder. PTSD can occur at any age and traumatic stress can be cumulative over a lifetime of responses to trauma, feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror.


For Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to be diagnosed, symptoms must be present for more than one month and be accompanied by a lessened ability to socialize, work, or participate in other areas of daily functioning. Effective treatment of PTSD often includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication.



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