Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disabling anxiety disorder that people can develop following exposure to one or more traumatic events.
What are the symptoms?
Sufferers experience a combination of the following sorts of symptoms:
- Unwanted thoughts and memories of the trauma
- Feeling emotionally upset, tearful or irritable for example, when reminded of the trauma
- Physical symptoms in response to reminders of the trauma, such as sweating, shaking or a racing heart beat
- Avoiding talking about the trauma, thinking about it or feelings associated with it
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma: people, places or activities
- Feeling emotionally numb, difficulty experiencing feelings like love or happiness
- Feeling detached and cut-off from other people, finding it difficult to be close to anyone
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling overly alert or watchful
- Feeling jumpy
These symptoms develop after a traumatic event.
What is a traumatic event?
A trauma is an event that causes intense fear during which the individual may feel like they (or someone very close to them) are about to die or experience serious harm. Traumatic events go beyond daily stressful events. Examples may be:
- Road traffic accident
- Witnessing someone being badly injured or killed
How common is PTSD?
Between 1990 and 1992, epidemiologists in the USA interviewed a sample of 8,098 Americans between the ages of 15 to 54 years that represented the population. They found that lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 8%, with women (10%) twice as likely as men (5%) to have PTSD at some point in their lives.
The study found that 61% of men and 51% of women reported that they have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives.
The researchers concluded: “PTSD is a highly prevalent lifetime disorder that often persists for years. The qualifying events for PTSD are also common, with many respondents reporting the occurrence of more than a few such events during their lifetime.” (Ronald C Kessler and colleagues 1995).
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