Post-traumatic Stress Disorder 

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who experienced a stressful or traumatic event. We explain the symptoms and treatment for those with PTSD.

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What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who experienced a stressful or traumatic event. This can include being a witness or involved in a sexual assault, crime, military combat, abuse, or natural disaster. The person can react to the experience in fear, reliving the event, having nightmares, and trying to avoid reminders of the event.

How many people can develop PTSD?

The lifetime incidence of PTSD is estimated to be around 9 to 15%. While this number increases to 30% for veterans. Those with PTSD are at higher risk for developing other mental health disorders such as: depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD may present soon after the traumatic event but can also begin years after. Symptoms generally last for more than one month and interfere with your personal life. There are several components to PTSD.

Complex trauma, which encompasses prolonged periods of abuse, domestic violence, or subjugation may lead to complex PTSD. This complicated form of the disorder has additional features including mood instability, low self-esteem, difficulty maintaining meaningful relationships, and feelings of shame or guilt.  

What are examples of traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD?

Having little social or emotional support after an event might increase your chances of getting PTSD. Having a strong support network of family and friends, positive coping strategies, or seeking a support group can aid in recovery after a trauma.
What is PTSD

Treatment options for PTSD

The primary treatments for PTSD are medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. While the emotional pain can be severe, there are ways to help you through the difficult times. Each individual may respond differently to different therapies, so there is no one size fits all approach. But seeking help is the first step to recovery.

Medications can help treat the worry, anxiety, sadness, and insomnia that are associated with PTSD. These agents can include but are not limited to:

  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Prazosin 
  • Buspirone 
There are several types of psychotherapy or talk therapy that are helpful to people going through this illness. You and your doctor will find the most effective choice for you and your goals. Common therapies include:
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy