Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through a dangerous or distressing event. The “fight or flight” reaction that’s normal at the time can linger long after the danger has passed.
Common PTSD symptoms include the following:
- Anxiety, panic attacks or constantly looking out for danger
- Depression or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Reliving the event through bad memories, flashbacks or nightmares
- Avoiding activities you used to enjoy
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma (e.g., not driving, or staying away from crowds)
- Withdrawing from loved ones or even thinking that they would be better off without you
- Having trouble concentrating at work or school
PTSD: what you should know
- PTSD is treatable — and the sooner you seek help, the easier it will be for you to overcome it.
- One sign that you might have PTSD is that instead of feeling better as time goes on, you feel as though things are getting worse.
Those most commonly affected by PTSD are:
- Veterans of war
- First responders (e.g., police officers, firefighters)
- Survivors of physical and sexual assault or abuse
- People who have been in accidents or natural disasters
- Witnesses to crimes
- Family members or friends of someone who was harmed
- People who experience the unexpected death of a loved one
How can I get help for PTSD?
If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, talk with your primary care doctor for treatment and referral options.