Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to frightening, overwhelming and traumatic event(s).
PTSD symptoms (re-experiencing the event, avoidance, emotional numbing, and hyper-arousal) are common after traumatic experiences, especially interpersonal events (such as being the victim of sexual or physical violence), car accidents and disabling injury. For many people these symptoms decrease and disappear over time, but for some people the disorder develops as the symptoms persist and begin to interfere with their ability to cope with aspects of their daily lives.
Many people experience traumatic events in life – car accidents, natural disasters, exposure to crime, the loss of a loved one, or the violence of war are just some of the challenges that people may face over the course of a lifetime.
These traumas affect people in different ways – strong and distressing feelings are a normal response in the days and weeks following a traumatic event, as the event is processed and contextualised, allowing us to accommodate the experience into our life story. As time passes these feelings become less acute, and many recover from the traumatic experience without needing professional support.
However, for some people, these feelings continue to be distressing for far longer, and their lives are impacted to the point that they are no longer able to cope at home or work. These are signs that they may be developing Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD and its symptoms frequently coexist with other conditions such as depression and alcohol/substance abuse, especially when PTSD is severe.