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What is PTSD?

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental illness affecting those whose symptoms following a traumatic event do not go away. People can experience debilitating symptoms that affect many aspects of their life, and these symptoms can last for months or years.

PTSD can be caused by many events, including the following:

  • War, either living during a time of war, or being actively engaged in the war

  • A natural disaster, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes

  • An accident, such as a car crash

  • Experiencing sexual assault or abuse

  • Experiencing abuse, including emotional, physical, and neglect

  • The death of a loved one

PTSD statistics and quick facts:

  • 8% of the population will have post-traumatic stress disorder at some time in their lives

  • Although anyone can develop PTSD, women are more likely to develop it than men

  • It used to be called battle fatigue syndrome, and shell shock, due to the fact that it was developed to explain a group of symptoms for war veterans.

  • 5.2 million people live with PTSD every year.


There are 4 main groups of PTSD symptoms, which are avoidance, intrusive memories, cognition and mood, and reactivity.

Avoidance: this can include reluctance to talk about the traumatic event, or avoid going near places where the event occurred, or are associated with. Avoidance can also include trying to avoid thinking about the event.

Intrusive memories: intrusive memories can include flashbacks and memories related to the event. Intrusive memories may be triggered by certain important dates, certain thoughts, or certain people and places.

Cognition and mood: this group of symptoms can include feelings of guilt about the event, loss of interest in activities, feeling hopeless, loss of memory about the event, and having difficulty with relationships.

Reactions: people may have different reactions when they have PTSD such as startling easily, always being on edge, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, or being more irritable.

PTSD in children:

Children with PTSD may experience slightly different symptoms such as bedwetting, trouble toilet training, losing the ability to talk, being clingy, nightmares, and acting out the event.

How is PTSD treated?

Treatment for PTSD teaches people how to manage their symptoms better, and improve their function, quality of life, and how they feel. These treatments can include therapy including cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and EMDR. Medications used include antidepressants/SSRIs and anti-anxiety medications.


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