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Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is caused by a traumatic event. The characteristic symptoms constitute the post-traumatic stress disorder. You cannot simply forget about very difficult situations, such as an accident, rape or being molested. Therapy and treatment are necessary. What are the criteria and the most common symptoms of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stressis a disease syndrome that manifests itself in the form of nightmares, isolation, and self-withdrawal. It is caused by a traumatic event that is difficult to forget.

Who is affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event will experience PTSD. The most vulnerable are people who directly experienced trauma - were victims or witnesses, and those who, due to helplessness, could not help themselves or other victims.

According to the research of the American National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), women are more often exposed to ailments related to post-traumatic stress. It is they who cite rape as the most common cause of symptoms, followed by sexual harassment. For men, armed combat is the greatest trauma.

Symptoms and criteria for posttraumatic stress according to DSM-IV:

I.The person experienced a traumatic event in which both conditions occurred:

1. Experience, being a witness or contact with an event or events related to the fact or danger of death or serious injury or violation of one's own or others' physical integrity.

2. The person's reaction then was severe fear, helplessness, or terror.

II.The traumatic event is re-experienced over and over again in one or more ways, such as:

  • recurring and intrusive memories of the trauma including images, thoughts or perceptions; recurring nightmares about the past;
  • delusions or behaviors as if the trauma was repeated;
  • strong anxiety in contact with internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble some aspect of the traumatic event;
  • Physiological responses to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble some aspect of the traumatic event.

III.Permanent avoidancestimuli associated with the injury and impairment of normal reactivity (not present before the injury), manifested by at least three of the following behaviors:

  • try to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the trauma;
  • Trying to avoid activities, places, or people that trigger memories of the trauma;
  • Inability to recall important aspects of the injury;
  • marked reduction in interest in performing essential activities;
  • feeling of exclusion or alienation;
  • limited range of affect;
  • feeling of a closed future.

IV.Permanent symptoms of hyperactivity (not present before the injury), expressed in at least two forms:

  • difficulty falling asleep or sleeping;
  • irritability or outbursts of anger;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • excessive vigilance;
  • exaggerated anxiety reactions.

V.The disturbance lasts for at least a month.

VI.Disorders cause a clinically significant deterioration or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.


Events that cause trauma:

  • natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.);
  • man-made disasters (car accidents, railroad accidents, fires, etc.);
  • violence: sexual violence (harassment, rape); homicides; wars.

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