Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) begins after the individual has experienced a traumatic event, which could include natural or man-made disasters, being the victim of a crime or being involved in war, among many others. The person’s response to the event involves feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. The cluster of symptoms that occur following the exposure to this event include re-experiencing the event, numbing of general responsiveness and persistent avoidance of the situation, event or stimuli that trigger thoughts of the event or situation, and persistent symptoms of increased physical arousal.

How Common is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

It is very difficult to calculate how many persons suffer from PTSD because many different methods of assessment and populations are used. Children, adolescents and adults all may suffer from PTSD. An aversive event (already defined) is necessary for PTSD to develop. However, most people who experience an aversive event do not develop PTSD. Other factors appear to be important for the onset of this condition. These include the person’s physical proximity to, and severity of, the event, becoming scared or being trapped during the event, being female, and having an “anxious personality” or being anxiety-prone. Other factors also may be important but they depend upon the particular type of traumatic event.