Overview Of PTSD

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that individuals can develop after experiencing a traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, military combat, or natural disaster. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD affects 3.6% of Americans. There is hope, however, as treatment is available for those struggling with PTSD.


Many people will feel short term responses to life-threatening events, but when symptoms persist and become long term it can lead to the diagnosis of PTSD. Symptoms for people with PTSD may vary, but common symptoms include:

  • Re-experiencing Symptoms
    • Recurring, distressing memories
    • Flashbacks of trauma
    • Bad dreams
  • Avoidance Symptoms 
    • Avoiding certain places or things that remind one of the traumatic event
    • Avoiding thoughts about the traumatic event
  • Arousal Symptoms
    • Feeling tense or on edge
    • Easily startled
    • Outbursts of anger
  • Cognitive and Mood Symptoms
    • Trouble remembering the event
    • Feelings of guilt and/or blame
    • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
    • Negative thoughts about one’s self


Treatment varies by person, but the most common types of treatment used for PTSD include the following: 

  • Medication
    • Antidepressants are the most studied type of medication for treating PTSD. They have been found to help treat symptoms of worry, anger, sadness, and a feeling of numbness. 
    • Other medication types may be used in the treatment of specific symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy (often called “talk therapy”)
    • Psychotherapy can include one-on-one talk sessions or group sessions.
    • The therapy tends to include education on symptoms, learning how to help identify symptoms, and skills to manage symptoms.
    •  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also common and includes:
      • Exposure therapy
      • Cognitive restructuring