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What is PTSD?

TRIGGERS
Historically, PTSD has been associated with military personnel and their reactions to traumatic experiences involving combat and warfare situations. More recently, PTSD has been linked to traumatic situations encountered by everyday individuals. The trauma can be triggered by large-scale ordeals, like terrorism attacks or devastating natural disasters, or highly personal events like a single-car accident, losing a job or business, divorce, failing to achieve a goal, loss of a loved one, seeing or hearing of a death, personal injury, childhood trauma or any other life-altering experience.

SYMPTOMS
People who suffer from PTSD exhibit a variety of symptoms. These can include a deep sense of helplessness, problems at home or work, abnormal fear, feelings of devastation, flashbacks from the event, a feeling of numbness, aversion to social contact, or avoidance of situations that might trigger memories of the event. Some physical responses may include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty with concentration or memory, feelings of vulnerability, fear of normal every-day activities, or feeling overwhelmed by the smallest of tasks.

LONGTERM EFFECTS
If left untreated, PTSD symptoms can become worse. Some documented cases include addiction to drugs or alcohol; chronic pain, hypertension or physical maladies; self injury; overwhelming fear of death; compulsiveness; personality changes; and self destructive incidents, to name a few.

HELPING THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD
The good news is that PTSD is treatable. Unfortunately, many health care providers are not always able to link the symptoms with the diagnosis. By making people aware of PTSD, including individuals whose loved ones have experienced a traumatic situation, is one of the best ways to assist in accurate diagnosis and that can lead to treatment, and, eventually, healing, growth and recovery.