Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that has been triggered by a traumatic event. This event can be one that happens to you or that you see happen to another. Many people who are involved or witness, traumatic events have a brief period of difficulty in adjusting and coping with the experience.  With time these traumatic reactions usually improve but in some cases will completely disrupt your life.  In this case, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress disorder may affect survivors of traumatic events such as sexual or physical assault, war, torture, a natural disaster or an airplane crash. Post-traumatic stress disorder also can affect rescue workers at the site of mass casualties or other tragedies. These kinds of events may cause intense fear, helplessness or horror. It's important to get treatment as soon as possible to help prevent PTSD from getting worse.

Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder usually start within three months of a traumatic event. In some, more unusual, cases, PTSD symptoms may not occur until years after the event.

PTSD symptoms can include:

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event
  • Feeling emotionally numb, or angry and Irritable
  • Bad dreams/nightmares
  • Worsening relationships
  • Shame or guilt
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Not enjoying activities you once enjoyed
  • Memory problems

When you have PTSD, you might relive the traumatic event many times and ordinary sounds or smells may take you back to the traumatic incident.  If you have these disturbing feelings for more than a month and they are causing disturbance in your life, if you feel out of control, consider talking to someone who understands the issues.
It's important to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse. If you don't get treatment, PTSD symptoms can become disabling.

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