Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed (including vicariously) a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape/sexual abuse, or other violent personal assault.

PTSD is a diagnosis that was originally associated with military veterans. However, PTSD can occur in a person of any age or background. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in his or her lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.

Frequently, a person’s reaction to a trauma initially meets criteria for Acute Stress Disorder in the immediate aftermath of the traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within the first 3 months after the trauma, though there may also be a delay of months or even years until symptoms appear. Not all sufferers of trauma develop PTSD, and the clinical presentation of PTSD varies. Many sufferers have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel extreme negative emotions, and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. 

People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch, which can be a form of flashback or an impression of reexperiencing the traumatic event. PTSD is associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. In addition, PTSD can share some symptoms with other diagnoses such as Adjustment disorder, Anxiety disorders, Depressive disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Personality disorders, Bipolar disorder, and Psychotic disorders. 


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