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.
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.
Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
AROUSAL AND REACTIVITY SYMPTOMS
Physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
Being easily startled
Feeling tense or “on edge”
Having difficulty sleeping
Having angry outbursts
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