WHAT IS PTSD?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.  Most people will experience a range of reactions after trauma and recover from initial symptoms naturally, however, those who continue to experience problems and feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger may be diagnosed with PTSD. To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom

  • At least one avoidance symptom

  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms

  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms

Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD.

PTSD STATS

  • 7,000,000 people in the US suffer from PTSD.

  • 50% of people with PTSD will never reach professional help.

  • 70% of adults have experienced at least one traumatic life event.

  • 20% of all adults who experience at least one traumatic event will suffer from PTSD.

  • 8% of adults (1 in 13) will develop PTSD.

SYMPTOMS OF PTSD

Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD.

RE-EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating

  • Bad dreams

  • Frightening thoughts​

AROUSAL AND REACTIVITY SYMPTOMS

  • Physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating

  • Bad dreams

  • Frightening thoughts​

  • Being easily startled

  • Feeling tense or “on edge”

  • Having difficulty sleeping

  • Having angry outbursts

AVOIDANCE SYMPTOMS

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event

COGNITION AND MOOD SYMPTOMS

  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event

  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world

  • Anxiety and distorted feelings like guilt or blame

  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

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