Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • PTSD is an extreme anxiety disorder that affects one in 13 Americans at some point in their lives.
  • PTSD is the fifth most common psychiatric disorder.
  • PTSD is a serious medical condition that may result after exposure to an extremely traumatic event involving death or threatened death, serious injury, or another physical threat.  The individual's response to that event must involve intense fear, helplessness or horror.  PTSD can result from experiencing the trauma, witnessing the trauma or even having learned about a traumatic event.
  • Classic examples of PTSD victims include soldiers or other witnesses of war, victims of violent crime or witnesses to it, victims of child abuse or incest, victims of domestic violence, survivors of serious accidents, survivors of a natural disaster (e.g. hurricane, earthquake, volcano), Holocaust survivors, being diagnosed (or one's child being diagnosed with) with a life-threatening illness, and rape victims.   Sudden death of a loved one may also precipitate PTSD.
  • Rape, physical assault, or battering are the traumas that most often lead to PTSD.
  • One study showed that about 1 in 5 people who experienced an extreme trauma went on to develop PTSD.
  • Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • There are 3 symptom clusters (characteristic types) of PTSD:
    • Re-experiencing the event by recurrent and intrusive recollections of the event or recurrent distressing dreams/nightmares of the event.  Rarely, the individual may experience "flashbacks":  dissociative states that persist for seconds, hours, or even days during which s/he relives aspects of the event and behaves as if the event were occurring at that moment.
    • Persistent avoidance of stimuli that might remind one of the trauma, along with feelings of numbing or detachment.  Patients with these  symptoms have significantly diminished interest or participation in previously enjoyed activities, avoidance of activities, situations or people that might remind one of the trauma, feelings of detachment from other people, impaired ability to experience emotions and a sense that the future is foreshortened.
    • Increased anxiety or arousal that was not present before the trauma.  This includes difficulty falling or staying asleep, perhaps due to nightmares.  Patients may also have hypervigilance or an exaggerated startle response, irritability, outbursts of anger, or difficulty concentrating or completing tasks.
  • Symptoms of PTSD persist for one month or more.  These symptoms affect daily life, including the ability to work or interact socially.
  • PTSD symptoms usually develop within the first three months after the trauma, but may not appear until months or years have passed.  The symptoms may persist for years following the trauma, and in some cases, symptoms may subside only to return years or decades later. 
  • PTSD is treatable with psychotherapy and medication (generally antidepressants in the SSRI class)
  • Recovery is possible.

Click here for more information on PTSD.

Click here for more information about depression or other mental health issues.

Created: 6/23/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us