POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
PTSD is a devastating anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a serious traumatic event such as a rape, kidnapping, domestic assault, car accident, plane crash, terrorist attack, bombing, or natural disaster. Approximately 7%-8% of people in the United States will develop PTSD while the lifetime prevalence of the disorder amongst combat veterans and rape victims is even higher, ranging from 10% to as high as 30%. The symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, long-term severe depression, dissociation, emotional numbness, avoidance, substance abuse, suicide, dislocation, and social retreat.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It's natural to be afraid when you're in danger. It's natural to be upset when something bad happens to you or someone you know. But if you feel afraid and upset weeks or months later, it's time to talk with your doctor. You might have post-traumatic stress disorder.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD?
PTSD is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, a hurricane, or bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.
If you have PTSD, you can get treatment and feel better.
Who gets PTSD?
PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. Children get PTSD too.
You don't have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt.
What causes PTSD?
Living through or seeing something that's upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. This can include:
How do I know if I have PTSD?
Your doctor can help you find out. Call your doctor if you have any of these problems:
Children who have PTSD may show other types of problems. These can include:
When does PTSD start?
PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.
How can I get better?
PTSD can be treated. A doctor or mental health professional who has experience in treating people with PTSD can help you. Treatment may include "talk" therapy, medication, or both.
Treatment might take 6 to 12 weeks. For some people, it takes longer. Treatment is not the same for everyone. What works for you might not work for someone else.
Drinking alcohol or using other drugs will not help PTSD go away and may even make it worse.
Facts About PTSD
Don't Hurt Yourself
Contact Information for National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Mental Health
Science Writing, Press & Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301-443-4513 or
1-866-615-NIMH (6464) toll-free
TTY: 301-443-8431 or
Web site: www.nimh.nih.gov
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. TR-08-6388