PTSD can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, but symptoms must be present for months or years. Therapy can help with identifying and managing triggers.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can affect people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Such triggering events may include war/combat, rape or other physical abuse, natural diasters, terrorist acts, or a serious accident. Common symptoms include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks of the event, and uncomfortable thoughts. It is normal and expected for people who experience a traumatic event to have temporary symptoms that improve with time. However, PTSD may be diagnosed when symptoms persist for months or even years, worsen over time, and if normal everyday functioning is impacted. Additional conditions may accompany PTSD, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other mental health and physical problems.
More than three million people are diagnosed with PTSD in the U.S. every year and women are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD than men. Treatment has proven effective in reducing symptoms and improving function, and can include psychotherapy and medication, such as antidepressants, to manage symptoms. Talk therapy may include educating the patient on their symptoms, and helping identify what triggers symptoms as well as teaching skills to manage them.