Physical effects of ptsd
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Symptoms and causes
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.
Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.
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Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
- Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
- Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event
Intensity of symptoms
PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you're stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
When to see a doctor
If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
If you have suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
- Contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.
- Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.
When to get emergency help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
If you know someone who's in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person to keep him or her safe. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
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You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you go through, see or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation.
Doctors aren't sure why some people get PTSD. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:
- Stressful experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma you've gone through in your life
- Inherited mental health risks, such as a family history of anxiety and depression
- Inherited features of your personality — often called your temperament
- The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:
- Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
- Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
- Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
- Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Having blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression
Kinds of traumatic events
The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood physical abuse
- Sexual violence
- Physical assault
- Being threatened with a weapon
- An accident
Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can disrupt your whole life ― your job, your relationships, your health and your enjoyment of everyday activities.
Having PTSD may also increase your risk of other mental health problems, such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Issues with drugs or alcohol use
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what's happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt — all are common reactions to trauma. However, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.
Getting timely help and support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. It may mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community.
Support from others also may help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
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Symptoms - Post-traumatic stress disorder
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.
In most cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event.
But in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.
Some people with PTSD experience long periods when their symptoms are less noticeable, followed by periods where they get worse. Other people have constant severe symptoms.
The specific symptoms of PTSD can vary widely between individuals, but generally fall into the categories described below.
Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD.
This is when a person involuntarily and vividly relives the traumatic event in the form of:
- repetitive and distressing images or sensations
- physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling
Some people have constant negative thoughts about their experience, repeatedly asking themselves questions that prevent them coming to terms with the event.
For example, they may wonder why the event happened to them and if they could have done anything to stop it, which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.
Avoidance and emotional numbing
Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD.
This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.
Many people with PTSD try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.
Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing.
This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing activities they used to enjoy.
Hyperarousal (feeling "on edge")
Someone with PTSD may be very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They may be constantly aware of threats and easily startled.
This state of mind is known as hyperarousal.
Hyperarousal often leads to:
- angry outbursts
- sleeping problems (insomnia)
- difficulty concentrating
Many people with PTSD also have a number of other problems, including:
- other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety or phobias
- self-harming or destructive behaviour, such as drug misuse or alcohol misuse
- other physical symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches
PTSD sometimes leads to work-related problems and the breakdown of relationships.
PTSD in children
PTSD can affect children as well as adults. Children with PTSD can have similar symptoms to adults, such as having trouble sleeping and upsetting nightmares.
Like adults, children with PTSD may also lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, and may have physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.
Other symptoms you may notice in children with PTSD include:
- difficult behaviour
- avoiding things related to the traumatic event
- re-enacting the traumatic event again and again through their play
When to seek medical advice
It's normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but in most people these improve naturally over a few weeks.
You should visit your GP if you or your child are still having problems about 4 weeks after the traumatic experience, or the symptoms are particularly troublesome.
Your GP will want to discuss your symptoms with you in as much detail as possible.
They'll ask whether you have experienced a traumatic event in the recent or distant past and whether you have re-experienced the event through flashbacks or nightmares.
Your GP can refer you to mental health specialists if they feel you'd benefit from treatment.
Find out more about treating PTSD
Page last reviewed: 13 May 2022
Next review due: 13 May 2025
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PTSD is a normal response
for severe traumatic events.
This booklet deals with signs,
symptoms and treatments for PTSD.
New York State
Department of Mental Health
Have you experienced a terrible and dangerous event? Note please, those cases in which you recognize yourself.
- Sometimes, out of the blue, everything that happened to me is happening again. I never know when to expect it again.
- I have nightmares and memories of the terrible incident which I have experienced.
- I avoid places that remind me of that incident. nine0024
- I jump on the spot and feel uneasy at any sudden movement or surprise. I feel alert all the time.
- It's hard for me to trust someone and get close to someone.
- Sometimes I just feel emotionally drained and deaf.
- I get angry very easily.
- I am tormented by guilt that others died, but I survived.
- I sleep poorly and experience muscle tension. nine0024
PTSD is a very serious condition that needs to be treated.
Many people who have experienced terrible events suffer from this disease.
It is not your fault that you fell ill, and you should not suffer from it.
Read this booklet to find out how you can be helped.
You can get well and enjoy life again!
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD/PTSD)?
PTSD is a very serious condition. PTSD symptoms may occur in a person who has experienced a terrible traumatic event. This disease is susceptible medical and therapeutic treatment. nine0003
PTSD can occur after you:
- Have been a victim of sexual abuse
- Have been a victim of physical or emotional domestic violence
- Victim of a violent crime
- Been in a car accident or plane crash
- Survived a hurricane, tornado, or fire
- Were at war
- Survived a life-threatening event
- Witnessed any of the above events
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you often have nightmares or memories associated with the event. you try to hold on away from anything that might remind you of the experience.
You are bitter and unable to trust or care for others. You are always on your guard and see a hidden threat in everything. You become not by itself, when something happens suddenly and without warning.
When does PTSD start and how long does it last? nine0011
In most cases, post-traumatic stress manifests itself approximately three months after the traumatic event. In some cases, signs Post-traumatic stress symptoms only show up years later. Post-traumatic Stress affects people of all ages. Even children are not immune from it.
Some get better after six months, others may suffer from it illness for much longer.
Am I the only one with this condition? nine0011
No, you are not alone. Every year, 5.2 million Americans suffer from PTSD.
Women suffer from this disease two and a half times more often than men. The most common traumatic events that cause PTSD in men are: rape, participation in hostilities, abandonment and abuse in childhood. The most traumatic events in women are rape, sexual molestation, physical assault, threat weapons and childhood abuse. nine0003
What other conditions can accompany PTSD?
Common depression, alcoholism and drug addiction, or other anxiety disorders. The likelihood of successful treatment increases if these comorbidities to identify and treat in time.
Frequent headaches, gastroenterological problems, problems with the immune system, dizziness, chest pain or discomfort in other parts of the body. It often happens that a doctor treats physical symptoms, unaware that their cause lies in PTSD. nine0003
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recommends therapists to learn from patients about experiences of violence, recent losses and traumatic events, especially when symptoms persist are returning. After diagnosing PTSD, it is recommended to refer patient to a mental health specialist who has experience in the treatment of patients with PTSD.
What should I do to help myself in this situation? nine0011
Talk to your doctor and tell him about your experience, and how you feel. If you are visited by terrible memories, overcomes depression and sadness if you have trouble sleeping and constantly embittered - you should tell your doctor about all this. Tell him Are any of these conditions preventing you from doing your daily activities? lead a normal life. You may want to show this booklet to your doctor. This may help explain to him how you feel. Ask your doctor examine you to make sure there are no physical illnesses. nine0003
Ask your doctor if he has had patients with post-traumatic stress. If your doctor does not have a special preparation, ask him for directions to doctor with relevant experience.
How can a doctor or psychotherapist help me?
Your doctor may prescribe medicine to help reduce your fear or tension. However, it should be borne in mind that usually several weeks before the medicine starts to work. nine0003
Many PTSD sufferers benefit from talking with a professional or other people who have experienced traumatic events. This is called "therapy". Therapy will help you get over your nightmare.
One man's story:
"After I was attacked, I He constantly felt fear and depression, became irritable. I couldn't sleep well and lost my appetite. Even when I tried not think about what happened, I was still tormented nightmares and terrible memories. nine0003
“I was completely at a loss and didn't know what to do. one buddy advised to see a doctor. My doctor helped me find a specialist in post-traumatic stress."
“I needed a lot of strength, but after medication and a course of therapy, I gradually come to my senses. It’s good that I called my doctor then.”
PTSD and the military
If you are in the military, you have probably been in combat. You, probably got into terrible and life-threatening situations. They shot at you you have seen your friend shot, you have seen death. experienced you events can cause PTSD. nine0003
Experts say that PTSD occurs:
- Nearly 30% of Vietnam War veterans
- Nearly 10% of Gulf War veterans (Operation Desert Storm)
- Almost 25% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan (operations "Introducing freedom") and veterans of the war in Iraq (operations "Iraqi Freedom")
Other factors of the military situation can serve as an additional stress to and so stressful situation and can contribute to the development of PTSD and other mental problems. Among these factors are the following: your military specialty, the political aspects of the war, where the battle takes place and who your enemy is. nine0003
Another reason that contributes to PTSD in military personnel can be Military Sexual Assault (MST) – any form of sexual harassment or sexual abuse while serving in the military. MST can happen with men and women, and can occur in peacetime, during war training or during the war.
Veterans Affairs (VA) health care approximately:
- 23 out of 100 women (23%) report sexual violence during military service
- 55 out of 100 women (55%) and 38 out of 100 men (38%) were exposed to sexual harassment while serving in the army
Although the trauma of sexual assault is more common in the military among women, more than half of veterans who have experienced sexual trauma violence in the army - it's men.
Remember, you can get the help you need right now:
Tell your doctor about your experience and how you feel. If your doctor does not have special training in the treatment of PTSD, ask him for a referral to a doctor who has relevant experience.
To help those suffering from PTSD, the National Institute of Conservation Mental Health (NIMH) supports research into the study of PTSD, as well as other thematically related to PTSD research on problems anxiety and fear. The challenge for research is to find new ways to help people cope with trauma, as well as find new treatment options and, The main thing is to prevent disease. nine0003
Research on possible risk factors for PTSD
Today, the attention of many scientists is focused on genes that play a role in having terrible memories. Understanding the mechanism of "creation" of scary memories can help improve or find new ways to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. For example, PTSD researchers have identified genes that are responsible for:
Statmin is a protein involved in the formation of terrible memories. During one experiment, mice were placed in environment designed to instill fear in them. In this situation mice lacking the statmin gene, in contrast to normal mice were less likely to "freeze" - i.e. exercise natural defensive response to danger. Also in the environment designed to evoke innate fear in them, they demonstrated it to a lesser extent than normal mice, more willingly mastering the open "dangerous" space. nine0184 1
GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide/GRP) - signal substance brain released during emotional events. At in mice, GWP helps control the fear response, and lack of GWP can lead to a longer memory of fear. 2
Scientists have also discovered a variant of the 5-HTTLPR gene that controls serotonin (a brain substance associated with mood), which, as it turns out, feeds the fear response. nine0184 3 It seems that, like in the case of other mental disorders, in the development of PTSD different genes are involved, each of which contributes to the formation of the disease.
Understanding the causes of PTSD can also be helped by studying different areas brain responsible for fear and stress. One of these areas is cerebellar amygdala, responsible for emotions, learning and memory. It turned out that she plays an active role in the emergence of fear (or other words, "teaches" to be afraid of something, for example, to touch a hot stove), as well as in the early phases of fear repayment (or in other words, "teaches" Do not be scared). nine0184 4
The retention of faded memories and the weakening of the initial fear reaction are associated with the prefrontal cortex (PFC / PFC) of the brain, 4 responsible for decision making, problem solving and situation assessment. Each zone PFC has its own role. For example, when the PFC believes that a stressor is amenable to control, the medial prefrontal zone of the PFC suppresses the anxiety center deeply in the brainstem and controls the response to stress. nine0184 5 Ventromedial PFC helps maintain long-term fading of fearful memories, and her ability to perform this feature can be affected by its size. 6
Individual differences in genes or characteristics of regions of the brain brain can only set the stage for PTSD, but by themselves do not cause no symptoms. environmental factors such as childhood trauma, head trauma or mental illness in family, favor the development of the disease and increase the risk of disease, affecting the brain in the early stages of its growth. nine0184 7 Except In addition, how people adapt to trauma is likely to be influenced by and characteristics of character and behavior, such as optimism and a tendency to consider problems in a positive or negative way, as well as social factors such as availability and use of social support. 8 Further research may show what combination of these factors or what other factors will allow ever predict who has a traumatic event cause PTSD, and who doesn't. nine0003
Currently, psychotherapy is used in the treatment of PTSD ("talk" therapy), drugs or drug-therapeutic combination.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you learn differently think and react to frightening events that are the impetus for development PTSD, and can help bring the symptoms of the disease under control. There are several types cognitive behavioral therapy, including:
"Push" method - uses mental images, notes or visiting a place experienced trauma to help those affected face the overwhelming their fear and take control of it.
Behavior restructuring (cognitive restructuring) - encourages survivors of a traumatic event express depressing (often erroneous) thoughts about experienced trauma, challenge these thoughts and replace them with more balanced and appropriate. nine0003
Implementation in a stressful situation - teaches ways to reduce anxiety and the ability to cope with it, helping to reduce the symptoms of PTSD, and helps to correct the erroneous train of thought associated with the trauma experienced. NIMH is currently conducting research to study the reaction brain response to cognitive behavioral therapy versus response sertraline (Zoloft) - one of two drugs recommended and approved US Food and Drug Administration funds (FDA) for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. This research may help find out why some people respond better to medications, and others for psychotherapy
Recently, in a small study, NIMH scientists found that if patients who are already taking a dose of prazosin (Minipress) at bedtime, add a daily dose, then this weakens the general symptoms of PTSD and stress reaction to reminders of the trauma experienced. 9
Another drug of interest is D-cycloserine (Seromycin), which increases the activity of a brain substance called N-methyl-D-aspartate, needed to pay off fear. During the study, which was attended by 28 people suffering from a fear of heights, scientists found that patients who received "push" therapy before a session D-cycloserine, showed lower levels of fear during the session compared to those who did not receive the drug. nine0184 10 Currently scientists study the effectiveness of the combined use of D-cycloserine and therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress.
Propranolol (Inderal), a beta-blocker drug, also under study whether it can be used to reduce post-traumatic stress and break the chain of scary memories. First experiments gave consoling results: it was possible to successfully weaken and, it seems, prevent PTSD in a small number of victims of traumatic events. nine0184 11
For example, in one preliminary study, scientists created a website self-help, based on the use of a psychotherapeutic method implementation in a stressful situation. First, patients with PTSD meet in person with doctor. After this meeting, participants can go to the site to find more information about PTSD and how to deal with the problem; their doctors may also visit the site to give advice or briefing. In general, scientists believe that therapy in this form - promising treatment for a large number of people suffering from PTSD. nine0184 12
Scientists are also working to improve methods for testing early treatment and monitoring of survivors of massive trauma, on developing ways to teach them self-assessment skills and introspection and referral mechanism to psychiatrists (if necessary).
Prospects for PTSD research
In the last decade, rapid progress in the study of mental and biological PTSD has led scientists to conclude that there is a need to focus on prevention, as the most realistic and important goal. nine0003
For example, in order to find ways to prevent PTSD, with funding NIMH conducts research to develop new and orphan drugs, aimed at combating the underlying causes of the disease. During another research scientists are looking for ways to enhance behavioral, personality and social protective factors and minimizing risk factors for prevent the development of PTSD after trauma. Another study is studying the question of what factors influence the difference in response to one or another method of treatment, which will help in the development of more individual, effective and productive methods of treatment. nine0003
Where can I find more information?
MedlinePlus - resource from the American National Library of Medicine (U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health) - offers the latest information on many health issues. Information about You can find PTSD at: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/posttraumaticstressdisorder.html.
National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
[National Institute of Mental Health
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Phone: 301-443-4513; Fax: 301-443-4279
fax answering system Free answering machine: 1-866-615-NIMH (6464)
Text phone: 1-866-415-8051 toll-free
Email: nimhinfo@nih. gov
National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
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VA Medical Center (116D)
215 North Main Street
White River Junction, VT 05009
- Shumyatsky GP, Malleret G, Shin RM, et al. Stathmin, a Gene Enriched in the Amygdala, Controls Both Learned and Innate Fear. cell. Nov 18 2005;123(4):697-709.
- Shumyatsky GP, Tsvetkov E, Malleret G, et al. Identification of a signal network in lateral nucleus of amygdala important for inhibiting memory specifically related to learned fear. cell. Dec 13 2002;111(6):905-918.
- Hariri AR, Mattay VS, Tessitore A, et al. Serotonin transporter genetic variation and the response of the human amygdala.Science. Jul 192002;297(5580):400-403.
- Milad MR, Quirk GJ. Neurons in medial prefrontal cortex signal memory for fear extinction. Nature. Nov 7 2002;420(6911):70-74.
- 5 Amat J, Baratta MV, Paul E, Bland ST, Watkins LR, Maier SF. Medial prefrontal cortex determines how stressor controllability affects behavior and dorsal raphe nucleus. Nat Neurosci. Mar 2005;8(3):365-371.
- Milad MR, Quinn BT, Pitman RK, Orr SP, Fischl B, Rauch SL. Thickness of ventromedial prefrontal cortex in humans is correlated with extinction memory. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Jul 26 2005;102(30):10706-10711. nine0024
- Gurvits TV, Gilbertson MW, Lasko NB, et al. Neurological soft signs in chronic posttraumatic stress disorder.Arch Gen Psychiatry. Feb 2000;57(2):181-186.
- Brewin CR. Risk factor effect sizes in PTSD: what this means for intervention. J Trauma Dissociation. 2005;6(2):123-130.
- Taylor FB, Lowe K, Thompson C, et al. Daytime Prazosin Reduces Psychological Distress toTrauma Specific Cues in Civilian Trauma Posttraumatic stress disorder. Biol Psychiatry. Feb 3 2006.
- Ressler KJ, Rothbaum BO, Tannenbaum L, et al. Cognitive enhancers as adjuncts to psychotherapy: use of D-cycloserine in phobic individuals to facilitate extinction of fear. Arch Gen Psychiatry. Nov 2004;61(11):1136-1144.
- Pitman RK, Sanders KM, Zusman RM, et al. Pilot study of secondary prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder with propranolol.Biol Psychiatry. Jan 15 2002;51(2):189-192.
- Litz BTWL, Wang J, Bryant R, Engel CC.A therapist-assisted Internet self-help program for traumatic stress. Prof Psychol Res Pr. December 2004;35(6):628-634. nine0024
New York State Department of Mental Health expresses thanks to the National Institute of Mental Health for the information, used in this booklet.
Published by the State Department of Mental Health New York, June 2008.
New York State
Andrew M. Cuomo Governor
Head of Department Michael F. Hogan, PhD
For more information about this edition contact:
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Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Signs and symptoms
Trauma-specific health care
Everyone has some distressing or painful experiences. However, there are times when these experiences are not just frustrating and possibly harmful. There is a difference between events that temporarily cause anxiety and events that are traumatic. Trauma is any event that a person perceives as harmful or threatening and has a long-term impact on their well-being. According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder about 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives 1 .
People are injured from many sources, including but not limited to abuse, war, crime, natural disasters, and discrimination. These experiences often trigger physical and emotional reactions that can last for years after the event. The effects of trauma can affect a person's relationships, work, health, and overall outlook on life.
People perceive events differently. What may be traumatic for one person may not be for another.
After a traumatic event, it is normal to feel fear and respond with fear caused by the "flight, fight or freeze" brain system. People may find that they are more jumpy than before, or they may avoid certain places or people that may remind them of the injury. Trauma survivors may also find it difficult to sleep or focus on tasks. For most, the fear reactions and symptoms go away after a short period of time. People who continue to experience these symptoms to the point where they affect their daily activities may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). nine0003
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a disorder that some people can develop after trauma. According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, approximately 7-8% of people will have a diagnosis of PTSD in their lifetime, which is much less than the number of people who have experienced trauma. 1 . No one knows for sure what causes PTSD in some people and not in others. Some factors that may influence the development of PTSD include:
- Feelings of dread, helplessness and intense fear after the traumatic event
- Lack of social support after the event
- Coping with additional stress after the event
- Having a pre-existing mental health or substance use condition such as depression or anxiety.
Symptoms usually appear within three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear for months or years. There are four categories of symptoms (explained in more detail below) that are prevalent in those who receive a diagnosis of PTSD: reliving, avoidance, hyperarousal, and changes in mood and thoughts. nine0003
Not everyone experiences them in the same way, but in order to be formally diagnosed with PTSD, all four patients must be present for more than a month.
Often, when someone thinks about trauma or post-traumatic stress, thoughts drift towards military action. More than 14% of military personnel who fought in Iraq and more than 9% of military personnel deployed to Afghanistan reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. For more information on specific services offered to veterans, visit our veterans page. nine0003
Post-traumatic stress disorder is often accompanied by: depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or anxiety. Fortunately, even if the trauma has long-term effects or develops PTSD, people can manage the effects of the trauma so they can live fulfilling and meaningful lives. These modalities include various forms of treatment such as certain types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, medication, and group support. nine0003
General signs and symptoms of PTSD
To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have experienced the following symptoms for at least a month.
- Re-experiencing a traumatic event as if it were happening again in the present moment is called "remembrance". Vivid nightmares are also re-experiencing trauma.
- Avoidance - for example, staying away from any place or event that reminds the person of the injury. nine0024
- Hyperarousal - such as trouble sleeping, nervousness or lightness of startle.
- Thinking and mood problems, such as memory problems or loss of interest in activities.
Young children may experience symptoms differently than adults. They can manifest themselves in the following ways:
- Nightmares instead of waking memories
- Wetting the bed when the child is already toilet trained
- Playing or coloring in the traumatic event
- Unusually grasping behavior towards caregivers
Those who live with PTSD or have experienced trauma may also have the following symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Shutdown or rejection
- Chronic insecurity
- Suicidal Thoughts
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Trauma-Based Care provides a person-centred framework for recognition and response consequences of all types of injuries. The focus is on the physical, psychological and emotional safety and healing of each individual. Practicing trauma-informed care prevents re-injury and helps people regain a sense of control and empowerment. This approach is based on cultural humility and fairness. Using the trauma lens promotes meaningful support, empathy, and compassion. nine0003
To support trauma-informed change, you can:
- Learn more about trauma-informed care, including the prevalence of injuries and their impact on individuals, communities, and systems.
- Seek and share learning opportunities related to trauma and equity-based approaches.
- Identify and address the relationships between trauma, physical, mental and behavioral health, substance use, race, identity, environment, community, access, bias and more. nine0024
- Take an injury-informed approach to your work and make the work environment physically, socially and emotionally safe for everyone.
- Practice self-care and wellness activities both at home and at work.
Signs and Symptoms
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For more information about PTSD and trauma, risk factors, and more information about the different treatments available for PTSD, visit:
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Center.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder .
- Behavioral health online training module on trauma and PTSD.
- National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) . nine0024
- Injury Awareness Training Resources .
Signs and symptoms
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If you have difficulty accessing health care or have problems with your health plan, Texas Insurance Department and Texas Health Commission Ombudsman's Office and social services can help. They can also help you learn more about your rights.