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According to Sigmund Freud, events and emotions that are particularly disturbing are repressed into the unconscious. Often times this theory is true, but for people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, they only wish that it were true. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled. PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
People with PTSD may startle easily, become emotionally numb (especially in relation to people with whom they used to be close), lose interest in things they used to enjoy, have trouble feeling affectionate, be irritable, become more aggressive, or even become violent. They avoid situations that remind them of the original incident, and anniversaries of the incident are often very difficult. PTSD symptoms seem to be worse if the event that triggered them was deliberately initiated by another person, as in a mugging or a kidnapping. Most people with PTSD repeatedly relive the trauma in their thoughts during the day and in nightmares when they sleep. These are called flashbacks. Flashbacks may consist of images, sounds, smells, or feelings, and are often triggered by ordinary occurrences, such as a door slamming or a car backfiring on the street. A person having a flashback may lose touch with reality and believe that the traumatic incident is happening all over again.
PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults,but it can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or one or more of the other anxiety disorders.
Many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Internet chat rooms can also be useful in this regard, but any advice received over the Internet should be used with caution, as Internet acquaintances have usually never seen each other and false identities are common.
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PTSD can be classified as circumstantial anxiety (as opposed to chronic anxiety) because it is caused by a stressful event. Anxiety takes form in one of these four ways:
· Spontaneous anxiety or panic – anxiety or panic that occurs regardless of where a person is.
· Situational or Phobic anxiety or panic – anxiety or panic that occurs because of a particular situation or location.
· Anticipatory anxiety or panic – anxiety or panic that occurs because of a thought that something “might” happen or a situation that “might” occur.
· Involuntary anxiety or panic – anxiety or panic that occurs involuntarily, by itself, or “out of the blue” that hasn’t been preceded by spontaneous, situational, or anticipatory anxiety.
Although researchers don't know exactly what causes post-traumatic stress disorder, they do know some of the risk factors involved, or the things that make you more likely to get PTSD.
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. It's relatively common among adults, with about 7 percent to 8 percent of the population having PTSD at some point in their lives. In any given year, about 5 million U.S. adults have PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is especially common among those who have served in combat, and it's sometimes called "shell shock," "battle fatigue" and "combat stress." People with PTSD most often experience one or more of these four types of traumatic events. Seeing someone being killed or badly injured Living through a fire, flood or natural disaster Living through a life-threatening accident Having been in combat But many other traumatic events also can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, including rape, mugging, robbery, assault, civil conflict, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, childhood physical abuse or neglect, sexual molestation, being threatened with a weapon, terrorist attacks, and other extreme or life-threatening events.