Understanding PTSD

What is PTSD?

Almost everyone will experience a traumatic event sometime in their lives. Initially, we may be very upset, frightened, or sad. Usually overtime the grief passes, the pain lessens, and life becomes relatively normal.

However, some people may experience life threatening situations that are so distressing that the memory does not fade. They begin to live their lives trying to avoid any reminders of what has happened to them. These people may be experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a serious condition that elicits emotional, psychological, and physiological responses resulting from trauma.

Who's At Risk?

PTSD can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socio-
economic background. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic
event or has been repeatedly exposed to life threatening situations are at risk
for developing PTSD. Examples may include:
  • Child abuse/Sexual abuse/Physical abuse
  • Random acts of violence
  • Major catastrophic events (plane crashes, fires, accidents, etc)
  • Terrorist acts
  • And any other extreme trauma which elicits intense fear, or a sense of helplessness

Symptoms of PTSD

May occur immediately or shortly after the trauma. They often come and go for years. Symptoms may include:
  • Re-experiencing the trauma
  • Emotional Numbing
  • Increased Irritability
Some symptoms can last for more than one month.

Recovery Takes Time

Survivors usually recover in stages. They may go through the stages in any order,
and may repeat stages before recovery is complete. Some examples are:
  • Fear and Sadness
  • Denial
  • Working Through Fears
  • Growth

Some Survivors Have Trouble Opening Up

They can’t talk about their problems because of guilt or shame caused by:
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Torture
Survivors need to understand they are not to blame for what happened to them.

Talking about their feelings with family, friends or professionals can help along with:
  • Mental Health or Psychiatric Services
  • Social Services
  • Victim Assistance Centers
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Veterans Administration (VA) Hospitals
  • Disaster Response Agencies