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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 7.7 million American adults each year. PTSD is most commonly associated with military veterans who have been exposed to combat. However, there are various types of traumatic experiences that can cause this disorder. Additionally, PTSD also occurs in children and teens.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder resulting from a traumatic experience that is accompanied by feelings of fear, horror, and/or helplessness. Causes for PTSD are experiencing or witnessing an event or events that resulted in or threatened death or injury—such as an accident, natural disaster, school shooting, fire, violent crime, or childhood abuse. For a stress disorder to be considered PTSD, symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with daily functioning.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, irritable or aggressive behavior, emotional numbness, and feeling on edge. Those with PTSD typically avoid people, places, or situations that trigger the memories and feelings associated with the traumatic event. Furthermore, the US Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that depression is between three to five times more likely to occur in trauma victims who develop PTSD than in the general population. Substance abuse is also more common among people with PTSD.

Treatment approaches for PTSD include trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Additionally, play therapy is sometimes used to treat young children with PTSD who are not able to deal with the trauma directly. A new approach known as the Comprehensive Resource Model treats PTSD using elements of psychology, spirituality, neurobiology, and body-based (somatic) techniques.

Sources: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, National Institute of HealthUS Department of Veterans Affairs  

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