PTSD Definition

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. PTSD, once referred to as shell shock or battle fatigue, was first brought to public attention by war veterans, but it can result from any number of traumatic incidents. These include kidnapping, serious accidents such as car or train wrecks, natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, violent attacks such as a mugging, rape, or torture, or being held captive. The event that triggers it may be something that threatened the person’s life or the life of someone close to him or her. Or it could be something witnessed, such as mass destruction after a plane crash.

Whatever the source of the problem, some people with PTSD repeatedly relive the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. They may also experience sleep problems, depression, feeling detached or numb, or being easily startled. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have trouble feeling affectionate. They may feel irritable, more aggressive than before, or even violent. Seeing things that remind them of the incident may be very distressing, which could lead them to avoid certain places or situations that bring back those memories. Anniversaries of the event are often very difficult.

PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. The disorder can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. Symptoms may be mild or severe—people may become easily irritated or have violent outbursts. In severe cases they may have trouble working or socializing. In general, the symptoms seem to be worse if the event that triggered them was initiated by a person—such as a rape, as opposed to a flood.

Ordinary events can serve as reminders of the trauma and trigger flashbacks or intrusive images. A flashback may make the person lose touch with reality and reenact the event for a period of seconds or hours or, very rarely, days. A person having a flashback, which can come in the form of images, sounds, smells, or feelings, usually believes that the traumatic event is happening all over again.

Not every traumatized person gets full-blown PTSD, or experiences PTSD at all. PTSD is diagnosed only if the symptoms last more than a month. In those who do have PTSD, symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the trauma, and the course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, others have symptoms that last much longer. In some cases, the condition may be chronic. Occasionally, the illness doesn’t show up until years after the traumatic event.

3 Responses to PTSD Definition

  1. AvatarLizete says:

    Could it be possible, that the PTSD can occur from a horrible nightmares one would have experienced as a child?
    If the nightmares are clear as a day, and not to mention terrifying and made up, could that be the reason a person would be suffering from PTSD or something like paranoia?

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      PTSD can have a wide set of causes and it would only be possible to truly understand the core reason by closely investigating with a mixture of professional guidance and close self reflection.

  2. AvatarRegina Blaker says:

    Recently I’ve been remembering more and more of the abuse suffered growing up. It was sexual, physical and mental. The sexual abuse was committed by 3 different individuals, one incident occurred when I was about 2 years old…I can remember it like it was yesterday, the others happened when I was 4 and 8 until I was 12. The physical and mental was constant until I was 13…it was my uncle on my mom’s side. My father left when I was about 2-3 years old. He was an alcoholic and violent when he drank. My mom worked two jobs 6 days a week and one on the seventh day. At a very young age, I knew she was extremely stressed, as did my siblings, so none of us told. There was so much chaos and bazaar incidents that went on in my home, that it somehow seemed normal to me. I got really good at shutting down…numbing myself. I didn’t show emotion…other than fits of rage! I completely withdrew when I was about 14 years and quit school. I had panic attacks all the time, nightmares from a very young age, and I would be in a constant state of panic when my mom wasn’t home at night…because that meant I had to try to sleep. That was never an easy task. I wasn’t so afraid during the day, because I could just stay away from the house until I had nowhere else to go. My uncle committed suicide in 1979, and I thought I would be ok then, but things just seemed to get worse. He never molested me, just my older sister. But, he would bring drinks home that did. He also physically and mentally abused my brother and me. He would give her food and not give us anything, kick us down the steps and lock us outside when the temperature was 20 degrees and we had no coat, etc…he would make us sit there for hours. He would tell us that we did have something to eat, and when we came out of the room to get it, he would start hitting us and laughing…asking us how we liked our dinner! My brother and sister didn’t make it. My brother committed suicide the same way my uncle did…laid in front of a train. My sister started doing drugs and drinking when she was in her early 30’s…she overdosed at 48 years. My brother was 42. I’m the youngest…I’m now 51, but still trying to pretend everything is ok in my world. I function normally on the outside, but I don’t feel emotions like I know I should. I know I love my daughter who is an absolute angel more than anything in the world, but I can’t feel it. I trust no one except her. I really don’t know what is going on at this time. I know what has caused me to be like I am, but it seems to be getting worse just when I thought I had a handle on it. My ex-husband was an alcoholic and abusive…surprise..right! He just died a couple of weeks ago due to his alcoholism, and I felt absolutely nothing. My daughter is getting a BS in Psychology and addictions counseling…she knows a lot of what I’ve been through, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m just wondering if maybe I’ve got PTSD.

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