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Key Facts and Statistics

  • According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7-8% of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Approximately 10% of women and 4% of men will experience PTSD during their lifetimes.
  • The onset can occur at any age, but the average age is early to mid-20s, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

Real-Life Example

John, a 40-year-old veteran, returned from military service with recurring nightmares, heightened alertness, and a sense of impending doom. He avoided family gatherings and crowded places, fearing they would trigger his symptoms. John was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and underwent a combination of treatments that helped him manage his symptoms better.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, along with uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Causes and Risks


  • Traumatic Events: War, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, and other life-threatening situations.
  • Emotional Trauma: Sudden loss, humiliation, or severe emotional stress.

Who is at Risk?

  • Combat Veterans
  • First Responders
  • Victims of violent crimes
  • Those with a history of mental illness or trauma


  • Flashbacks and Nightmares: Vivid, distressing memories of the traumatic event often recur involuntarily.
  • Emotional Numbness: Detachment from others and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Hyperarousal: Being overly alert, easily startled, or constantly feeling on edge.
  • Avoidance: Steering clear of reminders of the traumatic event, including places, people, and certain activities.
  • Negative Changes in Thoughts and Mood: Persistent, distorted beliefs about oneself or others, feeling alienated, or having feelings of hopelessness.
  • Irritability and Anger: Experiencing frequent mood swings, outbursts of anger, or aggressive behavior.
  • Guilt and Shame: Persistent feelings of guilt, shame, or responsibility regarding the traumatic event.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling to focus on tasks, which may affect work or school performance.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep.
  • Self-destructive Behavior: Engaging in risky or harmful activities, potentially including substance abuse.
  • Physical Symptoms: Some may experience headaches, stomach issues, or other unexplained physical ailments.

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Clinical Interviews
  • Psychometric Tests such as the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist for DSM-5)
  • Medical Examination to rule out other conditions


Talking Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Prolonged Exposure: Revisiting and retelling the trauma in a safe environment.
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy: Understanding how the trauma affects thoughts and feelings.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

  • Uses guided eye movements to help process traumatic memories.


  • SSRIs like sertraline or fluoxetine.
  • Prazosin for sleep disturbances.

Note on Side Effects: Medications can have side effects like nausea, insomnia, and mood swings.

Alternative Therapies

  • Acupuncture
  • Equine-assisted therapy
  • Art therapy

Self-Help and Lifestyle Modifications

  • Exercise regularly to help manage symptoms.
  • Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help.

Support from Friends and Family

  • Be an active listener.
  • Avoid forcing them to talk about the trauma.
  • Educate yourself on PTSD.

Additional Resources and Support Groups

  • National Center for PTSD
  • The Sidran Institute
  • Local support groups and online forums

Call to Action

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider for any medical condition.


  • National Center for PTSD
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5)
  • The Sidran Institute

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