What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults such as rape or mugging, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
Many people with PTSD are known to repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects that remind them of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event are also liable totrigger symptoms. People with PTSD are also known to have emotional numbness, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, irritability, or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt (called survivor guilt) are also common, particularly if others did not survive the traumatic event.
Most people who are exposed to a traumatic, stressful event have some symptoms of PTSD in the days and weeks following the event, but the symptoms generally disappear. But according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,about 8% of men and 20% of women go on to develop PTSD, and roughly 30% of these people develop a chronic, or long-lasting, form that persists throughout their lives.