Post Traumatic Stress Disorder*

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Post  Hummingbird on Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:38 am

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that's triggered by a traumatic event. You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you experience or witness an event that causes intense fear, helplessness or horror.

Many people who are involved in traumatic events have a brief period of difficulty adjusting and coping. But with time and healthy coping methods, such traumatic reactions usually get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Sometimes they may completely disrupt your life. In these cases, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Getting treatment as soon as possible after post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms develop may prevent PTSD from becoming a long-term condition.

Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder typically begin within three months of a traumatic event. In a small number of cases, though, PTSD symptoms may not occur until years after the event.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are commonly grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (hyperarousal).

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

* Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
* Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event

Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:

* Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
* Feeling emotionally numb
* Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
* Hopelessness about the future
* Memory problems
* Trouble concentrating
* Difficulty maintaining close relationships

Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include:

* Irritability or anger
* Overwhelming guilt or shame
* Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
* Trouble sleeping
* Being easily startled or frightened
* Hearing or seeing things that aren't there

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms during times of higher stress or when you experience reminders of what you went through. You may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences, for instance. Or you may see a report on the news about a rape, and feel again the horror and fear of your own assault.

When to see a doctor
It's normal to have a wide range of feelings and emotions after a traumatic event. The feelings you experience may include fear and anxiety, a lack of focus, sadness, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, or bouts of crying that come easily. You may have recurrent nightmares or thoughts about the event. This doesn't mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder.

But if you have these disturbing feelings for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, consider talking to your health care professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may be so severe that you need emergency help, especially if you're thinking about harming yourself or someone else. If possible, call 911 or other emergency services, or ask a supportive family member or friend for help.

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