What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying, life-threatening event. The resulting symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, dissociation, internal voices, depression, severe anxiety, and phobias as well as intrusive thoughts about the event.
Some experts prefer to think of PTSD as an “injury” rather than a disorder because the symptoms are caused by an outside force that changes the way the brain organizes information.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Persistent, invasive, or intrusive symptoms
Intrusive, invasive, involuntary distressing memories of the events
Dissociative episodes (flashbacks) during which the individual feels the trauma is happening again
Internal voices, strong thoughts, or command hallucinations
Prolonged emotional distress when faced with triggers of the trauma
Physiological reactions to reminders of the event
Phobias for people, places, activities, conversations, objects, and situations that may lead to disconcerting thoughts, feelings, or memories of the trauma
Efforts made to avoid anything that bring back distressing memories, feelings, or thoughts of the event
Inability to recall aspects of the trauma
Angry outbursts without apparent provocation
Exaggerated startle response
Negative mood symptoms:
Negative beliefs about oneself, others, or the world
Distorted thoughts about the trauma that lead to assigning blame for the event to themselves or another person
Constant negative mood
Inability to feel pleasure
Feeling disconnected from others
Inability to feel positive emotions
What are the effects of PTSD?
The effects of PTSD influence every area of a person’s life. The longer that PTSD goes untreated, the more the problems escalate. This list shows the wide variety of difficulties related to PTSD (in addition to the specific symptoms elsewhere on our site):
Internal voices, command hallucinations
Difficulty in regulating emotions
Inability to maintain stable relationships
Difficulty in feeling emotions
Difficulty in maintaining a job
Suicidal thoughts or actual suicide attempts
What co-occurring disorders often are diagnosed with PTSD?
As many as 80% of people with PTSD are also diagnosed with at least one other disorder. The most common are:
Substance use disorders
Many symptoms of these disorders are eliminated by processing trauma.