Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which physical harm occured or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that can cause intense fear, helplessness or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't strictly a condition attributed to war or military activity, though it certainly isn't uncommon for those exposed to those situations. It can be caused by experiencing or witnessing any traumatic or terrifying event. Sexual abuse, a car accident, a terrorist attack, natural disaster, a violent assault, death of a loved one, or any situation where physical harm occured or was threatened can cause PTSD.
Someone could be diagnosed with PTSD if they have symptoms in several of these categories that last for more than one month:
- Flashbacks - an involuntary recurrent memory or reliving of the traumatic event
- Intrusion symptoms - such as memories or nightmares of the event that was terrifying, traumatic or upsetting
- Avoidance - including persistent avoidance of thoughts, feelings, people or places that trigger that memory
- Negative alterations in cognition or mood - such as persistent or distorted negative expecatations about ones self, others or the world
- Changes in arousal and reactivity - such as irritable or aggressive behavior, or sleep disturbances
PTSD resources and related links and articles
- The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Alliance - a group of professional and advocacy organizations that have joined forces to provide educational resources to individuals diagnosed with PTSD and their loved ones; those at risk for developing PTSD; and medical, healthcare and other frontline professionals
- Hope for Recovery booklet (PTSD Alliance)
- National Center for PTSD (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)
- VA Overview information and other links on PTSD (Military.com)
- Family doctors diagnosing PTSD offer screening advise (CBS news article)
- Contractors sent to warzones often experience PTSD (Forbes news article)
- Helping Families Cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - (American Psychological Association Article)