Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a biopsychosocial condition that can develop following confronting or witnessing a traumatic event such as military combat, natural disaster, terrorist incidents, serious motor vehicle accidents, or violent assaults. An estimated 7.8 percent of the population struggles with PTSD during their lifetime and approximately 30 percent of veterans develop PTSD.
Trauma survivors often experience feelings of intense fear, horror, and helplessness. However, children may react in a disorganized or agitated manner. Typically, individuals will re-experience their trauma by having upsetting memories including recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, and distress when exposed to reminders of the event. In order to reduce uncomfortable feelings, trauma survivors avoid conversations, people, places, and activities that are associated with the trauma. They might complain of concentration difficulty, detachment from others and their own emotions, problems remembering specific aspects of the traumatic event, sleep difficulty, irritability, and difficulty sitting still due to heightened awareness of their surroundings.
If you recognize these symptoms in you or a loved one who has experienced a trauma, a referral for a comprehensive PTSD evaluation with a mental health professional is recommended. Since PTSD occurs with other conditions including depression, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and substance abuse, a multidisciplinary approach to care involving a primary care physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, and/or clinical social worker is advantageous. There is hope for patients with PTSD since medication and therapy have been shown to effectively treat this condition.
Author: Gary Proctor, MD