Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has received more media attention lately with the return of soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq. PTSD is an anxiety disorder resulting from an experience of or exposure to traumatic events such as combat, car accidents, physical or sexual abuse, assaults and other dangerous situations which threaten death or serious injury. People suffering from PTSD have symptoms that include:
- Re-experiencing: Individuals will re-experience the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, and reliving of events. Events, words, thoughts or symbols that remind the person of the trauma can trigger re-experiencing and cause emotional distress and physical reactions.
- Avoidance: After trauma, people may avoid thinking, feeling or talking about their experience or avoid activities, places or people associated with the incident or incidences. Other avoidance symptoms are an inability to recall parts of the event, a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, feelings of guilt, feelings of being detached from others, and having a sense of a shorter future.
- Increased arousal: Symptoms include problems sleeping, irritability, anger, difficultly in concentrating, hypervigilance, and being easily startled.
It is normal to have strong emotions, fears or anxiety after a traumatic event. If the symptoms last more than a month or are significantly interfering with your life, it may be time to seek professional assistance. PTSD can be successfully treated through psychotherapy or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The staff at PC&CC are available to help.