What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition a person experiences after a very traumatic experience. Intense feelings of horror, fear and helplessness usually cause this type of anxiety disorder. A person with post-traumatic stress disorder can be so overwhelmed with intense feelings of despair that he or she may have trouble getting on with his or her life. The duration of the disorder can vary. For some people the disorder may be short lived and for others the condition can linger for a long time.

In most cases, a person with post-traumatic stress disorder was involved in or witnessed a traumatizing event or experience. Some common examples of a traumatic experience include the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a serious health condition and witnessing something traumatizing happening to another person. Traumatic events can include war, rape, molestation, a horrific car accident and being involved in a natural disaster like a flood or fire. The disorder may also be caused by being robbed, kidnapped and brutally attacked. Additionally, different types of psychological trauma and a predisposition to mental illnesses can make a person susceptible to this disorder as well.


A person who has experienced a traumatic event may be more predisposed to develop post-traumatic stress disorder under certain conditions. For example, if the person lacks a strong support system, he or she may become more overwhelmed and develop the disorder. If the event was particularly severe and long-lasting, this may predispose the person as well. In addition, the disorder may be more profound in individuals with an existing mental illness.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be very extensive. An individual may be very withdrawn and quiet. As a result, close relationships may change or fall apart. He or she may have trouble sleeping and experience frequent nightmares about the event. The person may have a hard time concentrating and may get flashbacks of the event quite often.

Anger and irritability can also be symptoms. In many cases, the person will avoid doing things he or she enjoyed before the event happened. There are cases of this disorder in which the inflicted person will engage in self-destructive behavior or lash out against others. The individual may become very anxious and can be easily scared as well. Some people feel hopeless about the future, because the present seems so overwhelming.

Doctors may treat post-traumatic stress disorder with different medicines. Often, physicians prescribe anti-depressants to combat the depression that may accompany this disorder. Anti-anxiety medicines may also be used. In addition, many individuals may benefit from therapy to talk out their feelings. It is important to get a person suspected to have post-traumatic stress disorder some type of medical help as soon as symptoms of the disorder appear.


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Post 4

Whatever the problem, never take Lexapro. It will make you want to die. I was in a head-on accident and suffer from every day chronic neck pain. Yeah, I have depression only because the pain or DDD of five discs in my cervical.

Don't take any brain changing drugs. Just stick with the vitamins, people. Lexapro will make one want to die. Just trust me on that one. --Bill

Post 3

Latte31 - I just want to say that I really feel for the people that suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Some people suffer from acute post traumatic stress disorder which is a short term condition that lasts a few months, while other suffer from chronic post traumatic stress disorder which can last years.

I know that the constant flashbacks along with the anxiety and disturbance of sleep patterns are the worst aspects of this condition.

I know many soldiers that served in Vietnam and in other wars as well were never the same. It is important that if you are suffering from this condition that you seek help immediately.

Soldiers do get counseling through VA services. It

is best to contact your local VA office. They will provide you with a hotline that you can call in order to begin treatment.

Veterans have a higher risk of developing chronic post traumatic stress disorder because of the enormous guilt that they experience when they return home after all that they have seen in combat.

Post 2

Anon145062 - I am so sorry about your experience but the fact that you are interested in help is a positive sign.

I also wanted to let you know that about 5% of Americans or close to 11 million people in this country suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and about 14% of veterans suffer as well.

So you are not alone. The post traumatic stress disorder treatment involves a combination of counseling, drug therapy and psychotherapy.

I know that you say that you were not interested in drug therapy but I just wanted to let you know that medications like Zoloft change the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain and alter the levels of serotonin and dopamine

which will reduce the occurrences of flashbacks because it blocks the frequencies of those memories reoccurring.

They are also conducting studies on the effectiveness of Prozac, Celexa, and Paxil for long term use.

In order to find a good therapist in your area you should go to the site and it will offer you a series of psychotherapists in your area.

You can search by state or by zip code. It also offers background information on the therapists in your area. I hope that helps.

Post 1

I found this information insightful as to my behavior after a traumatic event. You described me to a T. Perfectly. Now that I understand my PTSD, what can I do about it without using medications?

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