What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
While it is natural to be fearful in a dangerous situation and while you may have short-term after-effects from an incident, a trauma should not lead to fear, apprehension and behavioral changes months after the event. If it does, you may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. PTSD is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, a hurricane, or bad accident. One afflicted with PTSD will feel stressed and afraid months after the danger is over. It affects outlook, behavior and personal relationships. PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. You do not have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. Often, one can be affected by seeing trauma happen to others. Living through or seeing something that's upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. These can include:
- Being a victim of or seeing violence.
- Living through the death or serious illness of a loved one.
- Participating in war or combat.
- Being involved in car accidents and plane crashes.
- Being a victim of hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires.
- Being a witness to a violent crime.
How do I know if I have PTSD?
Your doctor can help you find out. Call your doctor if you have any of these problems:
- Bad dreams.
- Flashbacks, or feeling like the traumatic event is recurring.
- Fear you can't control.
- Consciously avoiding places and things that remind you of what happened.
- Feeling worried, guilty, or being constantly depressed.
- Feeling alone.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Feeling on edge.
- Exhibiting angry outbursts.
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
Children who have PTSD may show other types of problems. These can include:
- Behaving immaturely.
- Being unable to talk.
- Complaining of recurrent stomach problems or headaches.
- Refusing to go places or interact with friends.
When does PTSD start?
PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.
How is PTSD Treated?
A doctor or mental health professional who has experience in treating people with PTSD can help. Treatment may include "talk" therapy, medication, or both. Treatment might take 6 to 12 weeks. For some people, it takes longer. Treatment is not the same for everyone. What works for you might not work for someone else.