Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that sometimes develops after exposure to an extremely stressful or life-threatening event — usually involving death or serious injury. Symptoms first appear soon after the event or even months or years later. People who suffer PTSD experience great distress that interferes with their lives, at home and at work.
PTSD symptoms fall into four categories:
Re-living the event
Memories of the traumatic event haunt the victim for months or even years. He might even experience the same fear and horror he did when the event occurred. Sometimes these flashbacks are triggered by a sight or sound. Witnessing a car accident, for example, could bring back memories of an accident he experienced. The sufferer sometimes relives the event through dreams.
The victim avoids talking or thinking about the event and also steer clear of situations that remind him of it. For example, a person who was robbed at gunpoint while eating at Wendy’s might avoid fast-food restaurants or refuse to eat hamburgers. In some cases, this aversion is so intense it becomes a kind of phobia. Many victims refuse to seek help because they don’t want to think or talk about the traumatic event.
The victim feels detached or estranged from others. He is unable to have loving feelings and often avoids close relationships for that reason. He is not interested in activities he once enjoyed. In some cases, he forgets much of the traumatic event.
The victim is jittery or always on the lookout for danger. This causes him to have a hard time sleeping and concentrating. He is irritable and prone to sudden outbursts of anger. He is always on “high alert,” looking out for danger.
Sufferers might also develop drinking or drug problems, a feeling of hopelessness, shame or despair. He often has problems keeping jobs and relationships.
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