Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a term for certain psychological consequences of exposure to, or confrontation with, stressful experiences that the person experiences as highly traumatic. The experience must involve actual or threatened death, serious physical injury, or a threat to physical and/or psychological integrity. It is occasionally called post-traumatic stress reaction to emphasize that it is a routine result of traumatic experience rather than a manifestation of a pre-existing psychological weakness on the part of the patient.
It is possible for individuals to experience Traumatic Stress without manifesting a full-blown Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Symptoms of PTSD can include the following: Nightmares, flashbacks, emotional detachment or numbing of feelings (emotional self-mortification or dissociation), insomnia, avoidance of reminders and extreme distress when exposed to the reminders ("triggers"), irritability, hyper vigilance, memory loss, and excessive startle response.
Experiences likely to induce the condition include:
- childhood physical/emotional or sexual abuse
- adult experiences of rape, war or combat exposure (the latter often called combat stress reaction)
- violent attacks
- a serious motor/car accident
- witnessing the sudden death of a loved one
- natural catastrophes, such as an earthquake or tsunami
- life-threatening childbirth complications
For most people, the emotional effects of traumatic events will tend to subside after several months. If they last longer, then diagnosing a psychiatric disorder is generally advised. Most people who experience traumatic events will not develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is thought to be primarily an anxiety disorder and should not be confused with normal grief and adjustment after traumatic events. There is also the possibility of simultaneous suffering of other psychiatric disorders (i.e., comorbidity). These disorders often include clinical depression, general anxiety disorder and a variety of addictions.
PTSD may have a "delayed onset" of years, or even decades, and may even be triggered by a specific body movement if the trauma was stored in the procedural memory, by another stressful event, such as the death of a family member or someone else close, or by the diagnosis of a life-threatening medical condition.
Also, doctors have conducted clinical studies indicating traumatized children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are more likely to later engage in criminal activities than those who do not have PTSD.