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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) & Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after you have been through a terrifying event (trauma). You may have even experienced this shocking and dangerous situation.  Or you may have witnessed it. While it is happening, you think your life or the lives of your loved ones are in danger.

Many people who go through traumatic events have trouble adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD. In most cases, with time, they usually get better. However, if your symptoms do not get better and continue for months or even years you may have PTSD.

Facts about PTSD

From the National Center for PTSD based on the U.S. population:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).
PTSD, sad man on bench

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Possible Causes of PTSD

  • serious road accidents
  • violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
  • prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect
  • witnessing violent deaths
  • military combat
  • being held hostage
  • terrorist attacks
  • natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis
  • a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition
  • an unexpected severe injury or death of a close family member or friend

PTSD isn’t usually related to situations that are simply upsetting, such as a divorce, job loss or failing exams.

Symptoms of PTSD

  • physical pain  such as headaches or migraines, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, breathing difficulties, stomach and digestive issues
  • nightmares or flashbacks
  • depression or anxiety
  • withdrawal
  • avoidance
  • repression, or the intentional blockage of memories associated with a past event or experience
  • emotional numbing
  • hyper-arousal,  jitters, impossibility to relax
  • irritability
  • guilt and shame

Post traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), has a complex and wide ranging set of symptoms. PTSD results when a person is exposed to an event in which they feel their life or someone they care about is threatened. The event causes changes in the brain which result in anxiety, depression, nightmare, intrusive memories and other emotional reactions. These symptoms impact the sufferer’s ability to relate to others and to work or even enjoy everyday life. Therapy, usually paired with medications, can help people understand their disorder and manage the symptoms and impact on their life.

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