Conditions InDepth: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) is an
disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event or ordeal in which actual physical or emotional harm occurred or was threatened. Events that can trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, such as rape or mugging, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. PTSD can be extremely disabling.
What are the risk factors for PTSD?What are the symptoms of PTSD?How is PTSD diagnosed?What are the treatments for PTSD?How can I reduce my risk of PTSD?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with PTSD?Where can I get more information about PTSD?
Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the
. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and
, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than one month.
DynaMed Editors. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated August 25, 2010. Accessed September 5, 2010.
National Institute of Mental Health
website. Available at:
Stern, TA et al.
Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry
. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2008.