Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become more recognized in recent years and is commonly associated with war veterans. However, you do not have to have been in combat to experience PTSD. PTSD can develop following various forms of trauma. The trauma typically fits in one of the following three categories:
(1) A direct personal experience: such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, an assault, etc.
(2) As a witness to a trauma: for example witnessing a death or injury of another, or
(3) Learning of a traumatic experience of someone else, for instance, finding out about a loved ones’ death or terminal illness.
PTSD develops when, in response to the trauma, one feels intense fear and/or helplessness, and then begins to experience the following symptoms:
- Re-experiencing the trauma in some way (recurrent thoughts about the trauma, nightmares, or flashbacks)
- Avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma and feeling emotional numb or detached
- Symptoms of increased arousal (trouble with falling asleep, regulating anger, etc.
Psychological treatment is recommended. Effective and research based therapeutic options include: trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), family therapy, and medication.