Post-traumatic stress disorder
A common anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Family members of victims also can develop the disorder. PTSD can occur in people of any age, including children and adolescents. More than twice as many women as men experience PTSD following exposure to trauma. Depression, alcohol or other substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with PTSD. Traumatic events that may trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Among those who may experience PTSD are troops who served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters like the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.; survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing; survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1994 California earthquake, the 1997 North and South Dakota floods, and hurricanes Hugo and Andrew; and people who witness traumatic events. Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than 1 month. Physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, or discomfort in other parts of the body are common in people with PTSD. Often, these symptoms may be treated without the recognition that they stem from an anxiety disorder. Treatment may be through cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and/or exposure therapy, in which the person gradually and repeatedly re-lives the frightening experience under controlled conditions to help him or her work through the trauma. Several types of medication, particularly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants, can also help relieve the symptoms of PTSD. Giving people an opportunity to talk about their experiences very soon after a catastrophic event may reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD. A study of 12,000 schoolchildren who lived through a hurricane in Hawaii found that those who got counseling early on were doing much better 2 years later than those who did not.

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post-traumatic stress disorder n a psychological reaction that occurs after experiencing a highly stressing event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) outside the range of normal human experience and that is usu. characterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event abbr. PTSD called also delayed-stress disorder, delayed-stress syndrome, post-traumatic stress syndrome compare COMBAT FATIGUE

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — [pōst′trô mat′ik] n. a condition characterized by recurring and, often, disabling symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc., that later affects some persons who have experienced a traumatic event or situation, esp. combat * * * Psychological reaction …   Universalium

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — [pōst′trô mat′ik] n. a condition characterized by recurring and, often, disabling symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc., that later affects some persons who have experienced a traumatic event or situation, esp. combat …   English World dictionary

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — (ˈ)pōs(t)ˌ… noun also post traumatic stress syndrome : a psychological reaction that occurs after a highly stressing event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) and is usually characterized by depression, anxiety,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — noun a mental disorder occurring after a traumatic event which is outside an individual s normal experience, characterised by such symptoms as withdrawal, depression, an inclination to relive the traumatic experiences, and a sensitivity to sudden …   Australian English dictionary

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — N UNCOUNT Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that can develop after someone has been involved in a very bad experience such as a war. [MEDICAL] …   English dictionary

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — post traumatic stress dis.order n [U] medical PTSD a mental illness which can develop after a very bad experience such as a plane crash …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — post traumatic stress dis,order noun singular or uncount MEDICAL a mental illness caused by having or seeing a very frightening experience, for example fighting in a war …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — noun Date: 1980 a psychological reaction occurring after experiencing a highly stressing event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) that is usually characterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares,… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • post traumatic stress disorder — disorder characterized by illusions that a past traumatic event is recurring and severe reaction to stress inducing stimuli (often affects veterans and victims of violence), PTSD …   English contemporary dictionary

  • post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD an anxiety disorder caused by the major personal stress of a serious or frightening event, such as an injury, assault, rape, or exposure to warfare or a disaster involving many casualties. The onset is at least one month after the traumatic… …   The new mediacal dictionary

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