What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition that affects people who experience or witness a dangerous, scary, or shocking event. Trauma triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, but this feeling usually disappears shortly after a traumatic event. However, an individual who constantly feels stressed or frightened after a traumatic event — even if no danger is present — may be diagnosed with PTSD.
There are two types of PTSD: acute and chronic. According to Mayo Clinic, acute PTSD may cause flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety related to past trauma. Chronic PTSD occurs when a person experiences the following symptoms for at least one month after a traumatic event:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom, such as flashbacks or nightmares
- At least one avoidance symptom, such as trying to avoid thoughts or feelings related to a traumatic event and/or staying away from people, places, or things that serve as reminders of a traumatic event
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping or mood swings
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as negative thoughts or loss of interest in activities that an individual previously enjoyed
Research indicates that up to 8% of the U.S. population experiences PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can affect a person months or years after a traumatic event. The condition is a serious problem that impacts the well-being of both children and adults. PTSD symptoms can occur at any time, and make it tough for one to enjoy everyday life. Fortunately, with the ability to identify PTSD risk factors, one can treat PTSD before it severely impacts their well-being.