What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? You feel on edge. Nightmares keep coming back. Sudden noises make you jump. You’re staying at home more and more. Could you have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

If you have experienced severe trauma or a life-threatening event — whether during a time of war or in a noncombat situation — you may develop symptoms of post traumatic stress,  or what is commonly known as PTSD. Maybe during the event you felt as if your life or the lives of others were in danger or that you had no control over what was happening. While in the military, you may have witnessed people being injured or dying, or you may have experienced physical harm yourself.

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or nightmares of the event, sleeplessness, loss of interest, and feelings of numbness, anger or irritability, or being constantly on guard, but there are many ways PTSD can impact your everyday life. Sometimes these symptoms don’t surface for months or even years after the event occurred or after returning from deployment. They may also come and go. If these problems persist or they’re disrupting your daily life, you may have PTSD.

Some factors can increase the likelihood of a traumatic event leading to PTSD, such as:

  • The intensity of the trauma
  • Being hurt or losing someone you were close to
  • Being physically close to the traumatic event
  • Feeling you were not in control
  • Having a lack of support after the event

What are the signs of post traumatic stress disorder?

A wide variety of symptoms may be signs that you are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. The following are some of the most common symptoms of PTSD that you or those around you may have noticed:

  • Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened
  • Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
  • Feeling emotionally cut off from others
  • Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
  • Feeling constantly on guard
  • Feeling irritated or having angry outbursts
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Being jumpy or easily startled

It’s not just the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder but also how you may react to them that can disrupt your life. You may:

  • Frequently avoid places or things that remind you of what happened
  • Consistently drink or use drugs to numb your feelings
  • Consider harming yourself or others
  • Start working all the time to occupy your mind
  • Pull away from other people and become isolated

What is the treatment for post traumatic stress disorder?

If you show signs of PTSD, you don’t just have to live with it. In recent years, researchers have dramatically increased our understanding of what causes PTSD and how to treat it. Hundreds of thousands of Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard have gotten treatment for PTSD and found significant relief from their symptoms.

Two types of treatment have been shown to be effective for treating PTSD: counseling and medication. Professional therapy or counseling can help you understand your thoughts and reactions and help you learn techniques to cope with challenging situations. Research has shown several specific types of counseling to be very effective for treating PTSD. Medications can also be used to help reduce tension or irritability or to improve sleep. The class of medications most commonly used for PTSD is called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” but a doctor can work with you to figure out which medication works best for you.