Some people who experience or witness a very traumatic event will experience a syndrome of symptoms called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD symptoms may emerge in the days after the disaster or trauma, or they may emerge weeks or even months after the fact. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:1
- Nightmares or insomnia
- Trying to avoid anything that reminds you of the event
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Wanting to stay socially isolated
- Forgetting details of the traumatic event
- Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling angry or feelings of irritation
- An inability to focus
- Feeling afraid
- Being very easily startled
To be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must endure for 1 month or longer. Although most people with PTSD will get better on their own in time, treatment can accelerate the healing process and is necessary for the 1 in 3 that won’t get better without help.
Psychotherapy (particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT) and certain medications are treatments that are proven to help people with PTSD.2
Read PTSD FAQ’s to learn more about this treatable disorder.
People with an existing mental health disorder are at greater risk to experience PTSD.
Page last updated Feb 22, 2011