What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety condition that sometimes develops after exposure to a shocking incident or ordeal where severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. Examples of traumatic events that could possibly trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents, or military combat.
It’s not just members of the military that can be affected, anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event is at risk of developing PTSD. This includes rescue workers like those who worked on catastrophes like the attacks on NYC and Washington D.C. on September 11th, 2001; survivors of the Oklahoma City bombings; survivors of rape, physical or sexual abuse, or other crimes; refugees fleeing wars and violence in their home countries; survivors of natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.
What are some traumatic events that can lead to PTSD?
- Terrorist attacks
- Natural disasters
- Serious accidents like a car or plane crash
- Sudden loss of a loved one
- Childhood neglect
- Sexual assault
- Physical abuse
PTSD can impact people who first hand experience the disaster, including those who witness it, and also those individuals who pick up the pieces afterwards, like emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It may even affect the friends and family of those who experienced the actual trauma.
PTSD strikes differently from one individual to the next. While indications of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.
What’s the difference between PTSD and a normal response to trauma?
The distressing events that give rise to post-traumatic stress disorder are typically so daunting that they would upset anyone. Following a traumatic situation, nearly everybody suffers from at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When your sense of security and trust are damaged, it’s normal to feel disconnected and numb. It’s very common to have nightmares, feel terrified, and find it hard to stop thinking about what happened. These are normal reactions to abnormal events.
For most people, however, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the symptoms don’t decrease, you don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse.
A normal response to trauma becomes PTSD when you become stuck
After a traumatic experience, the brain and the body are in a state of shock. As you begin to make sense of what happened and process your emotions, the normal experience is to come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder, however, you remain in the state of psychological shock. The memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face up to and feel your memories and emotions.
If you’re looking to exploring more on this topic, visit the Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic.