Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a set of symptoms that are triggered by either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or dangerous event. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Most who experience a traumatic event will recover relatively quickly without intervention. Approximately 8.7% of people in the US will develop PTSD by age 75 and PTSD is not limited to adults. In addition to living with the distressing symptoms, those with PTSD tend to have higher levels of social, occupational and physical disability and may use medical and social services more often. Their personal relationships may suffer due to difficulty with attachment and poor mood.
Some events that may trigger PTSD include: automobile accidents, physical and sexual assault, abuse, military combat, terror attacks, witnessing a violent attack, physical assault, or any other event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury.
It is not completely clear why some who experience traumatic events will develop PTSD. A combination of factors both social and environmental as well as genetics and neurobiology (brain biology) may be contributing factors. The main treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication or a combination of both. Not all treatment options work for all people. It is important to seek help from a mental health professional if PTSD symptoms are affecting you or a loved one’s life.