Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Alternate Names : PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome
Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition resulting from a traumatic event outside the range of a person's normal experience.
What is going on in the body?
PTSD is a psychological reaction to a catastrophic event outside of the individual. Researchers have identified changes in the central and autonomic nervous systems in people with PTSD. Changes in hormone systems have also been identified.
There are three types of PTSD reactions:
acute, in which symptoms last less than 3 months
chronic, in which symptoms last longer than 3 months
delayed, in which symptoms start at least 6 months after the actual trauma occurs
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
PTSD is caused by exposure to excessive stress or trauma. Events that spark the condition are not normally part of most people's life experience. Events that can trigger PTSD include the following:
high school violence, including shooting incidents
man-made disasters, such as bombings
natural disasters, such as earthquakes
sexual abuse, including rape
Not everyone exposed to such events will develop PTSD. It is not known why some individuals develop PTSD. However, having strong support systems lessens a person's risk of the disorder.