Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which develops as a result of an extreme and often unexpected event or series of events. These events can include but are not limited to those that are related to war and /or military combat, physical or sexual assault, accidents, and natural or man-made disasters.
A person experiencing PTSD symptoms has usually been exposed to, or threatened with death or serious physical harm. PTSD may also occur if an individual has witnessed these events happening to others, especially a close friend or relative.
Stressful events, such as marital breakdown, job loss, or normal bereavement are not normally thought of as producing PTSD. For PTSD to occur, the trauma involved must also lead to feelings of intense fear, helplessness and horror.There are three main types of PTSD symptoms:
- Re-living the trauma through distressing memories, nightmares or "flashbacks", or experiencing severe psychological distress at exposure to cues that resemble any aspect of the traumatic event
- Feeling numb or emotionally cut off from others, as well as an ongoing avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event
- Persistent signs of heightened anxiety and physical tension
These PTSD symptoms can often cause serious problems in every aspect of an individual's relationships, employment and day-to-day functioning.