Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; What Is It?
January 28, 2007
[Note] This is the first in what will be a weekly series about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms, it’s affect on our troops and their families, innovations and reasearch into this disorder and what can be done to help a person recover from it’s effects.
What exactly is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that often develops after a traumatic or terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Many types of traumatic events can cause or trigger PTSD reactions, such as violent personal assaults, natural or human caused disasters, accidents or military combat. The person who experiences PTSD may have been a person who was harmed in some manner, the harm may have occurred to a loved one, or they may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to a loved one or a stranger. PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to military veterans who had participated in combat, however, PTSD can occur in anyone as a result of traumatic events such as muggings, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held hostage, child abuse, domestic violence, automobile accidents, train accidents, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or tornados.
Not everyone experiencing a traumatic event will develop the symptoms of PTSD. Some may experience only mild symptoms, while others will experience severe symptoms. The symptoms of PTSD generally begin to manifest themselves within approximately 3 months of the traumatic event, though in some cases, the symptoms don’t begin to appear until years afterwards. The course that PTSD takes, varies from person to person. Some people will recover from the symptoms within a few months, while others will have symptoms that are of a much longer duration, possibly even lasting their entire lifetime, if left untreated. In some people, if not treated, the condition can become chronic.
PTSD affects people in all spectrums, not bounded by race, sex or age. In the United States today, approximately 7.7 million adults are affected by the symptoms of PTSD. PTSD however, can occur at any age, even childhood. Women are more likely than men to suffer from PTSD and there has been some research suggesting that PTSD can run in families. PTSD is very real and it’s symptoms can be so devastating, that it can affect the quality of life of the person suffering from it, as well as their family and friends.
Next week, I’ll detail the common signs and symptoms of PTSD.