Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) describes the problems many people have after experiencing a traumatic event.
Unfortunately, the types of traumatic events that can cause PTSD are fairly common. These events vary and include things such as house fires, physical and sexual assault, military combat, and car accidents.
You do not need to experience an event directly in order to have symptoms of PTSD. Witnessing a traumatic event can cause feelings of fear, helplessness and horror, and can also lead to PTSD.
PTSD includes three major types of difficulties:
Individuals can re-experience the trauma through:
Individuals may avoid or feel numb through:
Individuals may feel more on edge or wary of danger, which may cause them to:
All individuals with PTSD have experienced or witnessed at least one traumatic event, and some have experienced many traumatic incidents over the course of their lives. Because of this, it's no surprise that many individuals with PTSD also experience other problems in addition to PTSD.
However, it is important to note that while many upsetting things can happen in one's life, not all upsetting events lead to PTSD. You should speak to a counselor or psychologist if you or someone you know has any of the symptoms listed above.
Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event will get PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder. For example, many more people experience a disaster than a rape, yet PTSD is much more likely following a rape than following a disaster.
In addition to the nature of the trauma, researchers have identified many other factors that also influence whether or not a person will get PTSD. Researchers have also identified factors known as resilience factors, which can help protect an individual from developing PTSD.
Risk factors for PTSD include:
Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:
Researchers are continuing to explore different risk and resilience factors in hopes that one day it may be possible to prevent those who are most at risk for developing PTSD from doing so.
Although a number of treatments for PTSD exist, the Institute of Medicine (2007) has concluded that Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy is the gold standard approach for treating PTSD, as it is the only treatment that has enough evidence to support its efficacy.
You may want to consider getting help if you have experienced any kind of trauma and if difficulties related to the trauma are interfering with your daily life. However, it is important to note that symptoms of depression or anxiety may not necessarily seem to be related to your trauma. You may therefore want to consider seeing a professional even if your symptoms of anxiety or depression do not seem related to your trauma, as only a professional can diagnose PTSD.
If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately:
If you know someone who has PTSD, their symptoms may affect you too. The first and most important thing you can do to help a friend or relative is to help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to encourage your friend to make an appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment, or to seek different treatment if his or her symptoms don't start to get better after 6 to 8 weeks.
To help a friend or relative, you can:
Behavioral Wellness Clinic &
Delaware Valley OCD Clinic
225 Wilmington West Chester Pike
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Phone: (484) 324-2749
Contact us by email
Clinical Director: Monnica Williams, PhD
Office Manager: Jasmine Terwilliger
Business Manager: Matthew Jahn