Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSDPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as it is commonly referred to, 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.  Many clinicians who diagnose PTSD refer to traumatic events as ones that are “big-T” traumatic events or ones that are “little-t” traumatic events.  The more serious, or big-T events include death, serious injury or sexual violence and the experience can be either direct, witnessed or indirect meaning that the event occurred to someone in close relationship with the individual.  Little-t events include grief, divorce or childhood emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, 70 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  Furthermore, women are twice as likely as men to suffer with PTSD.

Professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a way to determine whether a person has PTSD or not.  Additionally, professionals want to know how long symptoms have been occurring as well as the impact of the symptoms upon daily life and to be sure that substance abuse or mental illness are not the actual issue.

To qualify for PTSD, certain specifications must be met which involves four sets of symptom clusters and two sub-types. First, individuals must have experienced a traumatic event in some form whether it was a big-T event or a little-t traumatic experience.  Then, typically, clinicians look to see if intrusion or re-experiencing occurs in flashbacks or nightmares followed by avoidance symptoms, meaning that the individual seeks to avoid particular situations that trigger traumatic emotions.  Next, negative changes in mood or behavior and subsequent heightened awareness or the feeling of always being on edge can be a hallmark of PTSD.

Clearly, PTSD is a complex anxiety disorder that requires professional assistance. If symptoms are left untreated, individuals may experience long term chronic health issues that could include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or personal problems including social isolation, job loss and divorce.  Consulting a professional for help can only help individuals who have experience trauma either directly or indirectly.





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