Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, war, traffic accidents, violence, abuse, or other threats to a person's safety. PTSD can be caused by either witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.
Symptoms may include intense anxiety, disturbing thoughts or feelings related to the event, anger, mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, nightmares, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, frightening thoughts, intrusive thoughts, paranoia, avoidance of situations or places, feeling on edge, and/or being easily startled.
Many people who go through something traumatic have temporary difficulty coping and acute symptoms. In fact, most people who experience a trauma do not develop PTSD. However, if the symptoms last longer than a month, get worse rather than better, and affect a person's ability to function, it may be a result of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD generally begin within the first three months after the traumatic event occurred, but may not begin until years later. While it's common to have symptoms after exposure to traumatic events, symptoms must persist to a sufficient degree, including causing dysfunction in life or clinical levels of distress, for longer than one month after the trauma occurred.
The recommended treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy/counseling, and medication. SSRIs are typically the first-line recommended medications for PTSD. Prevention may be possible when counseling is targeted at those with early symptoms.
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