Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as unpleasant memories of the event, feeling on edge, or sleep problems. Usually, with time, the intensity of these feelings lessen and people start to feel better. Sometimes, the problems get worse or last for long periods of time and may start impacting important parts of their life (i.e. social activities, relationships, work or school performance). If this is the case, the person is likely experiencing PTSD. The three core components of PTSD are a persistent re-experiencing of the event, a heightened sense of anxious arousal, and an active avoidance of emotional distress. Getting early treatment for PTSD can help in overcoming these problems before they take over a person’s life and become a permanent part of one’s personality and functioning.

How Prevalent is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Several research studies estimate that more than 13 million people have PTSD at any given time. Approximately one in 13 adults will face PTSD at some point throughout their life. Women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with PTSD, but one out of 20 men have experienced symptoms of PTSD.

What Causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD occurs after being involved in or witnessing an event that causes you to experience helplessness or intense fear. It is believed that genetic and emotional components make some people more prone to develop PTSD than others who witness or experience a similar event. People that are prone to anxiety and depression are more likely to experience PTSD symptoms after a terrifying event. Also, people that have experienced other traumatic events (i.e. abuse, witnessing a severe accident) are more at risk for PTSD than others that do not have traumas in their past. After a traumatic event, people deal with their emotions in different ways. For some people the trauma may be difficult to work through and leave them feeling stuck and this is when PTSD symptoms appear.

How Do I Know if I Need Help?

It is not unusual to feel a wide range of emotions and problems after a traumatic event, but this does not necessarily mean you have PTSD. Many people experience fear, sadness, and have difficulty stopping their reoccurring thoughts of the event. If these problems or emotions start to consume your life or are not getting better you should seek help.

What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes do not appear until years later. Common symptoms of PTSD are unwanted and uncontrollable memories of the event (dreams, flashbacks), avoidance of things that remind you of the event, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety or emotional problems (feeling numb, easily angered or startled). PTSD symptoms may increase during stressful times and they can be triggered by reminders of the event, like a similar noise or a news report on TV.

Getting the Help You Need

PTSD treatment often includes counseling and medicine may be recommended. Exposure therapy and EMDR are two common therapy approaches to treating PTSD. The professionals at OHEL can teach you skills to cope with the traumatic event and move on in your life. A therapist may work on changing the way you think about the event, help you address the worry and anxiety associated with the event, and help you face the fears in a safe and supportive environment. Psychotherapy can help you face these struggles and move forward toward the life you want.


Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.

― David Richo

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”

― C.G. Jung

Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future.

Swami Sivananda

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