Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can develop after encountering or witnessing a traumatizing event.

As per the data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), roughly 3.5% of adults in the United States develop PTSD annually. PTSD is not a disease of a specific age, gender, or socioeconomic status. PTSD can have a deeply negative effect on an individual’s life, relationships, and the well-being of that person overall.

Nevertheless, with proper identification and treatment of PTSD, including therapy, medication, and the help of loved ones, persons with PTSD can learn to manage their symptoms and live a happy life.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, is a mental condition that many people experience after having a very frightening experience or living through a traumatic event. It can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender, and background. PTSD can make you feel anxious or concerned even when there is no danger around.

Historical Background of PTSD

PTSD is not a relatively recent condition, but it wasn't always regarded as a disorder before.

In the early years, it was known differently, such as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue," particularly for the soldiers who experienced wars.

It was not until the 1980s that it was given its official name of PTSD and was recognized as a real mental health condition.

Types of PTSD

Acute PTSD: This kind of Posttraumatic stress disorder is when symptoms appear within a month after the traumatic experience.

Chronic PTSD: Here, the symptoms persist for more than three months since the traumatic event.

Complex PTSD: This type of trauma disorder comes out after a chronic traumatic experience, like continuing abuse or living in a war zone [1].

Delayed-onset PTSD: Symptoms may not appear until years after the traumatic event.

How Traumatic Incidents Shape Us

Traumatic experiences can be very devastating to our mental well-being. They can make us feel fearful, anxious, or even disconnected. Here are some ways they affect us:

Flashbacks and Nightmares: You could be plagued by the flashbacks of the traumatic event that come to your mind even when you do not want to.

Avoidance: You may stay away from people, places, or things that trigger your mind about the traumatic incident.

Hyperarousal: This implies staying in constant alert mode and always feeling that you're in danger.

Negative Thoughts and Feelings: Traumatic events make you feel guilty, ashamed, or like everything is your fault, even when nothing is [1].

Modern-Day Developments In The Sphere Of PTSD Treatment

Healthcare professionals have always been at the forefront of making people with PTSD better. Here are some recent advancements:

Virtual Reality Therapy: Some therapists will employ VR to have their patients face their traumatic memories but in a controlled and protected environment.

Medication: Some drugs, like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, can be used to supplement the symptoms of PTSD.

Therapy: CBT and EMDR are just two examples of the various kinds of therapy that have been successful in alleviating PTSD symptoms.

Peer Support Groups: Being able to relate with people who have been through similar experiences is beneficial as it could offer much-needed help and understanding.

It is estimated that 1 in 11 individuals will have PTSD at some point in their life [2].

Statistics show that about 30% of individuals who have severe trauma will suffer from PTSD.

Among those with PTSD, it is approximately 22.3% of the patients who display severe symptoms.

A total of 4% PTSD of the population in ages 20-34, 5% PTSD of the population in ages 35-64, and 3% PTSD of the population in ages 65-90 of the U.S. adults had PTSD in 12 months.

Studies have shown that 8% of women and 4% of men experience PTSD at some point in their lifetime [2].

Women have twice or thrice higher risk of PTSD in comparison to men [2].

About 10-12% of women develop post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime.

In men, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD is approximately 5% to 6%.

As compared to the other races, black women are most likely to have PTSD during their middle age.

Race itself is not a risk factor that may trigger PTSD. Nonetheless, race-based trauma is one of the reasons for it.

Roughly 80% of people with PTSD also suffer from another mental health condition.

People with PTSD are also more likely to have physical health problems, relationship problems, and poor quality of life, apart from PTSD [2].

It was revealed in a survey conducted among first responders that more than 80% of them have experienced a traumatic event while working and that 10% to 15% of them have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD might also have insomnia or sleeping difficulties and are susceptible to developing addiction [2].

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone who has been through a traumatic experience. It is imperative to identify the signals and symptoms to receive the support needed to fight and heal.

Re-Experiencing Symptoms

Flashbacks: This feeling of reliving the traumatic situation, even when it is not happening.

Nightmares: Anxious dreams about the traumatic event that can cause terror or distress.

Intrusive Thoughts: Unwanted reminders or flashbacks of the traumatic event that repeatedly keep coming back, and it becomes hard to concentrate or focus on other things [3].

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoiding Triggers: Keeping away from the people, places, or the things that make you remember the traumatic event.

Emotional Numbness: A feeling of loneliness, not being able to connect to anyone or even feeling emotional.

Avoiding Talking About the Event: Not willing to discuss the incident or choosing to completely avoid discussing it.

Hyperarousal Symptoms

Feeling on Edge: The sensation of constantly feeling jittery, anxious, or on high alert, as if danger stared at me in the face.

Difficulty Sleeping: Having difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or having a restless sleep.

Angry Outbursts: Feeling irritable or having sudden fits of anger and aggression [3].

Memory Impairment, Depression, and Mood Swings

Negative Thoughts: Scapegoating yourself or others for the event that happened or getting helpless about the future.

Memory Problems: Problems with remembering specific details about the traumatic event or other details about your life.

Loss of Interest: Apathy about the activities you used to enjoy or being indifferent towards the people you love.

Physical Symptoms

Headaches: Frequent headaches or migraines which might be the result of stress or tension.

Stomach Problems: Digestive problems such as nausea, stomach pain, or diarrhea, which may be stress-induced [3].

Rapid Heartbeat: Feeling like your heart is galloping or thumping in your chest, even when you are not doing anything rigorous.

Behavioral Changes

Substance Abuse: Reliance on alcohol, drugs, or other substances to deal with the pain and stress of PTSD.

Isolation: Withdrawing from social activities or not being in contact with friends or family.

Risk-Taking Behavior: Getting involved in risky and hazardous activities to forget or avoid the trauma [1].

Impact on Daily Life

Work or School Problems: Troubles with focusing, finishing assignments, or keeping relationships at the office or school [3].

Relationship Issues: Difficulty in maintaining relationships with family, friends, or loved ones as a result of mood swings or poor communication.

Feeling Overwhelmed: Being overpowered by even simple tasks or responsibilities somehow leaves you feeling confused and unable to help yourself.

PTSD is often caused by having personally undergone or witnessed a traumatic event. These events are overpowering and you can feel that your life or the lives of others are in danger. Here are some common causes of PTSD:

Combat And War

The combat situation often produces PTSD for the soldiers serving in such areas through the overall frightening experiences that they encounter.

Seeing death, being hurt in a fight, or going through a battle can scar soldiers for life emotionally.

Violent Attacks Or Assaults

When it comes to physical assault it can be in the form of being attacked or assaulted which may lead to PTSD.

Childhood violence like physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can be more traumatic and have a long-term effect on one's mental health.

Natural Disasters

Survivors of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods may experience PTSD.

These events may occur suddenly and beyond the everyday control of people, which may leave them feeling helpless and scared.


Being engaged in a critical incident like a car crash or airplane accident may result in PTSD.

We all remember the moments we saw someone suffering or even dying. This can be quite a traumatic experience for many.

Medical Trauma

Traumatic events during medical interventions including surgery or emergency can give rise to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [4].

The discovery of a terminal disease or going through an unexpected illness may also lead to mental trauma.

Witnessing Violence

Seeing violence, for example, shooting, stabbing or domestic violence can lead to the development of PTSD.

Even though you might not have been directly involved, it might still be very disturbing to see violence happening right in front of you.

Sexual Assault/Rape

Victims of sexual abuse and rape commonly develop PTSD as a result of the extreme boundary and safety violations they have suffered.

The ravages of sexual abuse can cause mental health issues and a decline in well-being over a long period.

Terrorism Or Any Mass Violence

Being the victim and witness of terrorism or mass violence, like bombing or mass shootings, can cause PTSD.

Such acts intentionally and without discrimination can provoke fear and posttraumatic stress.

Traumatic Loss

Experiencing the death of a close person in a sudden or traumatic fashion, i.e. homicide, suicide, or accident, may lead to the development of PTSD.

Grieving the death of someone who was near to you unexpectedly can cause an overload of strong emotions and trauma.

The Refugee And War Zone Experience

Refugees and people living in conflict areas undergo numerous catastrophic events, such as violent conflicts, displacement, and loss of a loved one.

Constant stress and the unpredictability of life in conflict areas can cause the development of post-traumatic stress disorder [4].

A careful assessment of symptoms and experiences is required to diagnose PTSD. Medical personnel use different criteria, approaches, and methods to make an accurate diagnosis of PTSD.

Criteria For PTSD Diagnosis

To be diagnosed with PTSD, the individual must fulfill some criteria as documented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria include [5]:

Exposure to Trauma: The person should have directly undergone or seen a traumatic event that included any actual or threatened death, severe harm, or sexual assault.

Intrusion Symptoms: An affected person will likely have bothersome thoughts and mental pictures of the traumatic event and/or nightmares.

Avoidance: The individual deliberately refuses to encounter the situation that has been associated with the traumatic event, including places, persons, and activities.

Negative Changes in Thoughts and Mood: The individual harbors negative thoughts and feelings, for example, guilt, shame, or detachment from the people around him/her.

Hyperarousal: The person has enhanced reactivity or sensitivity, such as if he/she is easily startled, has difficulty sleeping, or feels on edge all the time.

Methods And Approaches For Diagnosis

Healthcare experts like psychologists, psychiatrists or licensed therapists by distinctive procedures and methodologies determine PTSD accurately. These may include:

Clinical Interviews: Healthcare professionals collect data through interviews by asking the person questions about their symptoms, trauma experiences, and history.

Diagnostic Questionnaires: The standardized questionnaires, including the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist), may be used to explore the intensity of the symptoms of PTSD and their effects on daily life.

Trauma History Assessment: Healthcare professionals delve into the facts of the traumatic event(s) that happened to the individual to understand the situation and its effects.

Observation and Assessment of Behavior: Healthcare professionals pay attention to the subject's behavior and emotional reactions while being examined to detect symptoms of PTSD.

Collateral Information: Information can be obtained from the ly member, friefriends other sources to help gain more knowledge about the symptoms and how the patient is going about their daily life.

It can be difficult to deal with PTSD, but you can use several techniques and strategies to cope and handle your symptoms. Here are some tips:

Educate Yourself On PTSD

Acquire more information about PTSD and how it affects people. Knowing what you are going through, and what is causing the symptoms can help you to feel in control.

Use reputable sources of information such as books, websites, or educational materials offered by mental health organizations.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

One way of taking control of stress and anxiety is using relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation that will help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

The daily practice of relaxation methods helps to stabilize the mind and body and it makes the management of PTSD symptoms a lot easier.

Establish A Routine

Make a daily plan which includes appropriate sleep, meals, exercise, and leisure activities.

Having a schedule with a structure can offer stability and predictability which are soothing for people with PTSD.

Stay In Touch With Supportive People

Be in touch with friends, relatives, or support groups that have been through the same thing and can relate to what you are going through.

Talking to other people who have been through the same things can be a source of comfort, acceptance, and a feeling of being part of a group.

Restrain From Exposure To The Triggers

Identify the factors that exacerbate your PTSD symptoms, like specific places, people, or situations.

To the extent possible, always attempt to avoid being exposed to triggers or develop the skills needed to manage them well.

Practice Self-Care

Be mindful of your physical and emotional requirements by having a good diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and doing activities that make you happy.

Self-care is vitally important for your mental health.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Pay attention to the negative thoughts and the beliefs that trigger PTSD symptoms.

Face these thoughts by confronting them with evidence on the contrary and substitute them with more rational and inspiring outlooks.

Set Realistic Goals

Divide the big task into smaller achievable objectives.

Don't forget to reward yourself even if it's for the smallest of victories to get yourself in the right mood and more motivated.

Practice Grounding Techniques

Practice grounding techniques to stay in the present and to relate to the current moment when you feel overwhelmed.

Train your senses by pointing out things around you, for example, the colors of the room, the sounds you hear, or the feelings of touch.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

Although self-help techniques can be of assistance, it is necessary to be aware of when you need someone else’s support.

Should your symptoms be disrupting your daily activities or causing a lot of distress, you might benefit from a visit to a therapist or counselor.

Overcoming PTSD is a challenge, however, various treatment options will manage the symptoms and improve your well-being. Here are some common treatments for PTSD:


Psychotherapy, which is also commonly referred to as talk therapy, is one of the most effective options for PTSD treatment. Different types of therapy may be used, including [6]:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy assists you in identifying and changing the negative thinking patterns and behaviors related to PTSD. It can include exposure therapy which is the process where you gradually expose yourself to your fears and traumatic memories in a secure setting.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR integrates the CBT techniques with bilateral eye movements or other forms of stimulation to help with processing the traumatic memories and thus decreasing the distress.

Group Therapy: The main feature of group therapy is participating and exchanging experiences in a group with others who have also been through traumatic events. It may create a feeling of belonging, acceptance, and encouragement.


Medications could be considered for the treatment of specific PTSD symptoms, like depression, anxiety, or sleep problems. Common medications used to treat PTSD include:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are antidepressants that aim to decrease the sufferings of depression and anxiety that are prevalent in PTSD [5].

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs are another class of antidepressant drugs that can be used to treat the symptoms of PTSD.

Prazosin: This medication can be used to lessen nightmares and improve sleep quality in PTSD patients.

Alternative Therapies

Some individuals with PTSD find relief from symptoms through alternative therapies such as:

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a method of treatment wherein thin needles are inserted into specific points in the body to induce relaxation and lower stress.

Yoga and Mindfulness Practices: Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices can be really helpful in soothing thoughts, controlling stress, and boosting self-awareness and relaxation [6].

Service Animal Therapy: Service animals, especially dogs, can be trained to provide emotional support or assistance, which can help people with PTSD feel safer and more connected. These creatures, for example, might be used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance.

1. Cleveland Clinic. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

2. Forbes. PTSD Statistics And Facts: How Common Is It?

3. What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

4. Mayo Clinic. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

5. National Institute Of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

6. Wikipedia. Post-traumatic stress disorder.