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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition a person experiences after a very traumatic experience. Intense feelings of horror, fear and helplessness usually cause this type of anxiety disorder. A person with post-traumatic stress disorder can be so overwhelmed with intense feelings of despair that he or she may have trouble getting on with his or her life. The duration of the disorder can vary. For some people the disorder may be short lived and for others the condition can linger for a long time.
In most cases, a person with post-traumatic stress disorder was involved in or witnessed a traumatizing event or experience. Some common examples of a traumatic experience include the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a serious health condition and witnessing something traumatizing happening to another person. Traumatic events can include war, rape, molestation, a horrific car accident and being involved in a natural disaster like a flood or fire. The disorder may also be caused by being robbed, kidnapped and brutally attacked. Additionally, different types of psychological trauma and a predisposition to mental illnesses can make a person susceptible to this disorder as well.
A person who has experienced a traumatic event may be more predisposed to develop post-traumatic stress disorder under certain conditions. For example, if the person lacks a strong support system, he or she may become more overwhelmed and develop the disorder. If the event was particularly severe and long-lasting, this may predispose the person as well. In addition, the disorder may be more profound in individuals with an existing mental illness.
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be very extensive. An individual may be very withdrawn and quiet. As a result, close relationships may change or fall apart. He or she may have trouble sleeping and experience frequent nightmares about the event. The person may have a hard time concentrating and may get flashbacks of the event quite often.
Anger and irritability can also be symptoms. In many cases, the person will avoid doing things he or she enjoyed before the event happened. There are cases of this disorder in which the inflicted person will engage in self-destructive behavior or lash out against others. The individual may become very anxious and can be easily scared as well. Some people feel hopeless about the future, because the present seems so overwhelming.
Doctors may treat post-traumatic stress disorder with different medicines. Often, physicians prescribe anti-depressants to combat the depression that may accompany this disorder. Anti-anxiety medicines may also be used. In addition, many individuals may benefit from therapy to talk out their feelings. It is important to get a person suspected to have post-traumatic stress disorder some type of medical help as soon as symptoms of the disorder appear.