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 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Signs and Symptoms 

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: What is it?

posttraumatic stress disorderPosttraumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that usually develops as result of experiencing the threat of or actual serious harm or injury as a result of a traumatic event. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder may be caused by a variety of terrifying events such as war-time activities, rape, physical assaults, car accidents and any other experiences of a nature which traumatizes an individual emotionally. Some recent events such as the Vietnam War, Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, have been noted for, and will continue to manifest continuing stress-related symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder statistics:

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 3.6 percent of the adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 to 54, or approximately 5.2 million people, have symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder during the course of any given year. NIMH also reports that as many as 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones, may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. The general public may have first become aware of the long-term effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the high level of Vietnam war veterans (one million) who may have developed post-war symptoms. Statistics from the Persian Gulf war are estimated to be at approximately 8 % of those who served in war zones.

Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is primarily characterized by intense symptoms of anxiety, which are frequently experienced in the form of flashbacks, terrifying memories, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts when people are exposed to events or objects, which remind them of the trauma. Usually there is an intense physiological arousal resulting in difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance and an exaggerated startle response. People who experience Posttraumatic Stress Disorder also may experience emotional numbness, depression, and various other symptoms of anxiety.

Diagnosis of Posttraumatic Traumatic Stress Disorder:

In addition to the aforementioned symptoms of intense physiological arousal when presented with reminders of the traumatic event, individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder usually try to avoid any stimuli associated with the trauma. Also, the disturbance must persist for more than one month and must cause clinically significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Only a trained mental health professional however should diagnose Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate 

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