Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Acute Stress Disorders

Know More: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Trustworthy information, straight from the source. Education is the first step in an empowering healthcare plan. Learn more about post traumatic stress disorder, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment.

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Condition Overview

What is post traumatic stress disorder?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that may occur after you have experienced a traumatic situation or event. This event may have caused you to feel intense fear, pain, or sorrow. You may think you are going to get hurt or die. You may also continue to feel helpless after the event. These feelings affect your daily activities and relationships.

What causes PTSD?

  • An accident.
  • A crime done to you or a crime you may have seen, such as a murder, robbery, or shooting.
  • A serious disease, such as cancer, or the death of a loved one.
  • A natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, hurricane, or tornado.
  • Physical or sexual abuse.
  • Violence, war, or terrorism.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

How is PTSD diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and use a guide to diagnose PTSD. You have PTSD if you have had all of the following for at least one month:

  • You have seen, faced, or experienced an event that involved serious injury, near death, or death.
  • Your response to the event was great fear, helplessness, or horror.
  • You have at least one constant symptom of re-experiencing the traumatic event.
  • You have at least three symptoms of avoidance.
  • You have at least two hyperarousal symptoms.
  • Your symptoms cause distress and affect your daily activities, work, and relationships.

How is PTSD treated?

  • Cognitive behavior therapy: This therapy will help you learn to face the feared object or situation slowly and carefully. You will also learn to control your mental and physical reactions of fear.
  • Cognitive restructuring: Your healthcare provider will help you learn which thoughts cause anxiety. Your therapist will help you see the event differently so you can change your thoughts and decrease your anxiety.
  • Exposure therapy or desensitization: This therapy helps you face a feared object, person, or situation. Fantasy or real-life situations are used with this therapy. The goal of desensitization therapy is to help decrease your fear or anxiety.
  • Relaxation therapy: Stress may cause pain, lead to illness, and slow healing. Relaxation therapy teaches you how to feel less physical and emotional stress. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and music are some forms of relaxation therapy.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: This is also called EMDR and is a type of exposure therapy. Healthcare providers help you make your eyes move back and forth while you imagine the trauma.
  • Psychological debriefing: This is often a single meeting with a therapist to have crisis counseling. You may have this right after a traumatic event to prevent or decrease further emotional problems.
  • Medicine:
    • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given to decrease anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed.
    • Antidepressants: These medicines decrease or stop the symptoms of depression.
    • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

Preparing for Care

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You think about hurting or killing yourself or someone else.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.
  • You cannot sleep or are sleeping too much.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.