Approximately 7% of U.S. adults are impacted each year by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with twice as many women affected than men. PTSD is a form of anxiety caused by a prolonged response to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD may not emerge right away. They may appear a few months after the trauma, or they could even surface years after the event. PTSD includes the following diagnostic criteria that continue to persist for at least one month after the traumatic event:
- A minimum of one re-experiencing symptom. These include flashbacks, nightmares, or recurrent frightening thoughts
- A minimum of one avoidance symptom. These include avoiding places, events, people, or things that remind the individual of the trauma. Avoidance also includes blocking thoughts and feelings related to the trauma
- A minimum of two arousal and reactivity symptoms. These include hyper-arousal, feeling tense, jumpy, or on edge, sleep disturbances, and angry outbursts
- A minimum of two cognition and mood symptoms. These include difficulty remembering details of the traumatic event, a negative mindset, inappropriate feelings of blame or guilt, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
Substance abuse is another common symptom of PTSD. The individual uses alcohol or drugs to relieve the emotional impact of the trauma. Very often, someone with PTSD will have co-occurring substance use disorder.
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