Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that causes a person to feel threatened and afraid when there is no threat. When people are in real danger, several changes occur within the body to help them survive or avoid the threat. This is often known as a "fight or flight" response where chemicals are released to prompt the reaction to the threat. But when a person has PTSD, the body enters this state even when there is no danger.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is usually associated with war veterans, but it affects many others who suffer traumatic events. For example, people who are victims of crimes, car accidents or natural disasters also frequently experience PTSD afterward.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The typical case of PTSD will involve three categories of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance or hyperarousal. Re-experiencing symptoms bring back the trauma all over again and include flashbacks, frightening thoughts or bad dreams. With avoidance symptoms, the person with PTSD tends to withdraw from people or activities that were once enjoyable. Finally, with hyperarousal symptoms, a person with PTSD may seem constantly on edge, easily startled or ready to snap at any moment. He or she may also have difficulty sleeping.
PTSD can be treated, typically with some combination of psychotherapy and medication. The types of therapy that are helpful for PTSD include talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The antidepressants paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft) are also approved for treating adults with PTSD.
SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Mental Health
Does stress from significant life events increase heart disease risk?
Childhood trauma may increase the risk of heart disease in adulthood, according to new research.
Psychiatrist offers advice on coping with the aftermath
But evidence for using pot to treat other types of pain or post-traumatic stress remains inconclusive
Study found those exposed to dust cloud also more prone to develop asthma
Study found area linked to emotions was larger in soldiers who had both conditions
Report finds reckless acts a symptom of disorder, and they increase the odds of another traumatic experience
This heightened stress could increase their risk for heart disease, researchers say
Researchers conclude that use of the painkillers is 'an American problem,' not a VA problem
Link with the psychiatric disorder is more apparent for women, study contends
Study is preliminary, but suggests an acoustic 'feedback' technology might help some patients
Rates of PTSD and depression are higher, but so too are liver problems and back pain, study finds
New policy statement urges government to keep families together, not place kids in detention centers
Mental health woes may trigger chronic fight-or-flight response, researchers suggest
They're also more likely to suffer depression, anxiety -- and new moms particularly vulnerable
Researchers find sleep weakens emotions stemming from disturbing events
Small study suggests that Tai Chi could reduce symptoms, but a larger trial is needed