Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Terror Attacks

PTSDThe recent terror attacks in Las Vegas, London and other cities around the world are difficult to hear about or watch unfolding on the news and social media outlets.  But for those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), these events may cause them to relive a past traumatic experience. When tragic events occur, it is a normal response to be upset, frightened and to have the “fight or flight” mentality.  People who suffer from PTSD remain anxious even when there is no longer any danger.

PTSD can occur after any traumatic event including exposure to combat situations, sexual or physical abuse (as a child or as an adult), serious accidents, natural disasters, like the devastation from recent hurricanes, or terrorist attacks like 9/11 or Las Vegas.  However, not everyone who experiences a traumatic episode will develop PTSD.

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, in New York City there was an estimated 11.2% of the population that suffered PTSD in the four to eight weeks after the attacks, and 7.5% of residents of Manhattan in the same time frame post 9/11.  While the prevalence of PTSD has decreased over time, those closest to the attack and the rescue workers on site may continue to have symptoms.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to an actual traumatic event or even the potential for a situation causing tremendous physical harm.  Symptoms of PTSD typically appear immediately after a traumatic event, but can also develop over time.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, to be diagnosed with PTSD an adult must have all of the following types of symptoms for at least one month:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
  3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyper-arousal)

Seventy percent of adults have experienced some traumatic event in their lives and, of this group, 20 percent will develop PTSD at some point.  This percentage is equivalent to almost 45 million people, according to  Women are twice as likely as men to suffer with PTSD.

Unfortunately, horrible events will occur.  When they do, be mindful that this may cause someone you know or love to have a “flash back”.  It is important to see a medical or behavioral health specialist immediately if you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms.



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