Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The essential feature of PTSD is experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that involves the threat of or actual loss of life, or serious injury to oneself or others. The reaction or response to the traumatic event typically consists of extreme fear or horror. Examples of traumatic events include serious car accidents, sexual assaults, war, violent physical abuse/assaults and industrial accidents. Common symptoms of PTSD include repeated memories, nightmares or flashbacks. These can be and are often accompanied by strong emotions, such as fear, anxiety, sadness or anger, as well as intense bodily sensations. Due to the repetitive nature of these emotional thoughts/memories/flashbacks, one typically tries to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event and/or avoid situations/people that remind them of the event. There may also be difficulty remembering important aspects of the event, trouble with relationships and feeling close or connected with others, and an inability to express loving or tender feelings. Often, there is a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. PTSD is also associated with difficulty sleeping and concentrating. There are often outbursts of anger or irritation. A person suffering from PTSD may also find themselves in a state of hypervigilance—i.e. increased awareness of their environment.

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