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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after witnessing a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, or after experiencing a serious injury. PTSD can also develop after a threat of death or serious injury, even if no one was physically harmed. While most people experience anxious reactions after a serious traumatic effect, PTSD develops when these symptoms and negative reactions remain for long periods of time and begin to disrupt daily life and functioning. Sufferers of PTSD experience feelings of intense fear, lack of control, and helplessness as a result of their traumatic experience.
An individual suffering from PTSD may exhibit the following symptoms across three categories:
A doctor may give an official diagnosis to a person who has had of the following symptoms for at least one month:
Risk factors of PTSD are characterized by individual experiences. Anyone at any age can be subject to PTSD after experiencing or being exposed to a highly traumatic event, or after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. Some examples of those who may be at risk: victims of abuse, war veterans, victims of natural disasters, victims of fatal accidents, etc. Like most other mental health disorders, PTSD rarely has a single cause or main risk factor. Contributing risk factors include genetics, brain chemistry, or trauma. Individuals who have experienced long-term stress, chemical imbalances, or a first-degree family history of anxiety or other mental health disorders may have an increased risk of developing PTSD.
PTSD is often treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Unfortunately, many people suffering from PTSD do not seek treatment because of their desire to avoid anything that triggers their symptoms, including talking about their traumatic experiences. For those who do seek help, the following are some of the options available:
Consult your doctor if you believe you have any of the symptoms related to this disorder and discuss the benefits and risks of any medication or therapy. Supplementing these methods with alternative treatments like meditation, mindfulness training, or yoga may facilitate recovery.
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