Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that impacts millions of Americans each year. Often, PTSD is associated with military veterans, which do, in fact, suffer from high rates of PTSD; however, PTSD can and does impact millions of other individuals.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD.
In other words, PTSD is a condition where a person’s flight or fight response, put simply, is not functioning properly. Again, the NIH describes the following about PTSD:
While most but not all traumatized people experience short term symptoms, the majority do not develop ongoing (chronic) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
The types of PTSD symptoms can vary, but some of the more common symptoms can include “Re-experiencing” symptoms and “Avoidance” symptoms.
Regarding the former, Re-experiencing symptoms are what the term suggests. As the NIH writes: “Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.”
Whereas, on the other hand, Avoidance symptoms include: “Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, please reach out to a certified mental health professional.