PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. You may find it hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about.
For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time. For some, treatment can get rid of PTSD altogether. For others, it can make symptoms less intense. Treatment gives you the tools to manage symptoms so they don’t keep you from living a fulfilling life.
Any experience that threatens your life, safety, or someone else’s can cause PTSD. These events are sometimes called trauma. A traumatic event could be something that happened to you or something you saw happen to someone else. During this kind of event, you may not have any control over what’s happening may feel very afraid, helpless, or powerless. Anyone who has gone through something like this can develop PTSD.
Going through a traumatic event is not rare. At least half of Americans have had a traumatic event in their lives. Of people who have had trauma, about 1 in 10 men and 2 in 10 women will develop PTSD.
Part 2 will cover some additional guidelines in considering whether you need treatment for traumatic symptoms.