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Understanding PTSD

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.

Learn about PTSD

PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after a trauma, or life- threatening event. A traumatic event could be something that happened to your loved one, or something they saw happen to someone else. Types of traumatic events that can cause PTSD include:

  1. Combat and other military experiences

  2. Sexual or physical assault

  3. Child sexual or physical abuse

  4. Learning about the violent or accidental death or injury of a loved one

  5. Serious accidents, like a car wreck

  6. Natural disasters, like fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake

  7. Terrorist attacks If you’re concerned about a loved one who has experienced trauma, it’s important to learn about PTSD. Knowing how PTSD can affect people will help you understand what your loved one is going through — and how you can support them.

PTSD Symptoms There are 4 types of PTSD symptoms, but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way. Symptoms usually start soon after the event, but for some people they may come and go, or start much later.

  1. Reliving the event You may notice that your loved one has nightmares, gets upset by things that remind them of the event, or often seems distracted or absent. This can happen because people with PTSD often have memories of the trauma even when they don’t want to. They may have flashbacks — memories that are so real and scary that it feels like the trauma is happening all over again.

  2. Avoiding things that remind them of the event You may notice that your loved one goes out of their way to avoid these reminders, or triggers — for example, someone who was in a car accident may avoid driving. They may also try to stay busy all the time so they don’t have to think about the event.

  3. Having more negative thoughts and feelings than before You may notice that your loved one seems sad, scared, or angry, and has trouble relating to family and friends. They may also feel numb, or lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

  4. Feeling on edge You may notice that your loved one startles easily, has trouble sleeping, or seems angry or irritable. They may be overprotective of their family, or always “on guard” — like they are worried that something bad will happen.

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD or if you are concerned that someone close to you may have PTSD, it’s very important to reach out to a mental health care provider right away.


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