Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD identifies a specific emotional distress that can follow a major psychologically traumatic event. This uncommon event would typically produce fear and anxiety in anyone who experienced it. Examples are rape or assault, a natural disaster, being part of or observing a serious accident, major surgery, and wartime combat duty. Symptoms may begin immediately or not surface for six months, a year, or even longer.
Severe anxiety and panic may be only two of several symptoms. The person will have recurring images of the traumatic event, often with the same degree of anxiety as during the event itself. Or, she/he will suddenly feel as though the event is occurring in the present. Nightmares, anxiety, or depression can disturb sleep. The person may remain tense and anxious throughout the day, and may startle easily.
The traumatized individual begins to withdraw from the world, show less emotion, and become disinterested in people and activities that were once important. They avoid any situations that might stimulate memories of the traumatic event. Guilt, depression, and sudden outbursts of aggressive behavior may also surface. Drug and alcohol abuse develop in some as they attempt to manage these responses.
PTSD Treatment and Recovery: Behavior therapy may play a useful role by helping modify the way a patient acts and reducing avoidance behavior. These approaches may be used in a group or in a an individual setting.