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What is PTSD

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness that some people develop following a traumatic event.

Flashbacks, anger, avoidance, and intrusive thoughts commonly characterize the disorder. Although many people associate PTSD with combat veterans, anyone who has experienced trauma can develop the disorder.

An estimated 7.7 million American adults live with PTSD today. Children can also develop these symptoms. While PTSD can occur without any other mental illnesses, people with the disorder often also experience depression, anxiety, or substance addiction. Recent studies have linked traumatic brain injuries in veterans to PTSD as well.

Some people with PTSD may believe that their symptoms are permanent because of their trauma. However, there is hope. While professionals cannot take away the pain of what happened, they can make it easier to live with and help patients reduce their symptoms

Types of PTSD

The mental health community categorizes PTSD into four distinct types, each with its own characteristics and sets of symptoms:

  • Avoidance: Patients avoid processing the feelings about the events or anything that could remind them of what happened

  • Intrusive memories: Patients experience flashbacks, nightmares, and obsessive thoughts about the events.

  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Patients present with arousal symptoms, such as always being on guard or being easily startled.

  • Negative changes in thinking and mood: Patients have persistent negative thoughts about themselves or the world in general. May also include problems with memory and relationships.

People with PTSD can have symptoms from one or more of these types. Different triggers tend to cause different types of PTSD.

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