Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as sexual violence, serious injury, war/combat, a natural disaster, a terrorist act, a serious accident, rape, or death threats. PTSD is privy to all individuals. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Ethnic groups such as U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites. PTSD causes intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may engage in avoidance behaviors to stay away from situations or people that trigger the traumatic event and have strong adverse reactions to things such as loud noises or an accidental touch.
A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to a distressing traumatic event, either firsthand or indirect. Indirect can include but is not limited to events such as learning about a traumatic death of a loved one or repeated exposure to traumatic details of an event. For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and cause significant distress or problems in daily functioning. Symptoms can develop within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later and often persist for months; sometimes years. PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other physical and mental health problems as well.