What is PTSD?
When someone feels in danger, it’s a natural response to feel afraid. This fear triggers multiple split second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the individuals reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.
PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who is diagnosed with PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or even strangers.
What are some symptoms of PTSD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three primary categories for PTSD.
1. Re-experiencing symptoms
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts.
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having difficulty remembering the dangerous event.
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having trouble sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.