What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

To receive a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you must have experienced an event that “involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others” and must have reacted with “intense fear, helplessness, or horror”.   PTSD involves a cluster of 3 core symptoms: Flashbacks or intrusive thoughts and images (includes nightmares), Avoidance of situations that remind you of the event (includes blocking out memories of the trauma), and symptoms of Arousal (like getting easily startled, having excessive anxiety, being charged up on adrenaline and other symptoms).

The type, amount or duration, and age at exposure to trauma all play a role in its development.  While psychological trauma can occur at any point in the lifespan, trauma has its most profound impact when it occurs during early childhood or adolescence and becomes less pervasively damaging with later onset.  Trauma that occurs during these developmentally vulnerable times can lead to PTSD, but may also cause disturbances in emotional development, problems with clear thinking, physical problems, and can cause serious disruptions in your relationships!

Important Facts about Trauma and PTSD:

  • Approximately 15 to 25% of any traumatic event leads to the development of PTSD and especially severe traumas called “high magnitude trauma” may double this rate!
  • Interpersonal violence, such as torture and assault, and prolonged and/or repeated events such as childhood sexual abuse, are more likely than natural events to results in a traumatic response. 
  • The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adult Americans is 7.8%, with women (10.4%) twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • Across gender, sexual assault and interpersonal violence are associated with the highest PTSD rates overall.
  • Between 17 and 33% of women in the general population report sexual–physical abuse and between 40 to 70% of people receiving psychiatric treatment experienced a childhood trauma

Click here for more information on Trauma and its Treatment.  Dr. Eric Ryan is a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa California.  He is currently the Training Director for the Post Doctoral Residency Program at Kaiser Psychiatry in Santa Rosa and was previously the Chair for the Anxiety Disorder Best Practices for all of Northern California Kaiser Psychiatry.  For more information about Dr. Ryan go to http://www.docericryan.com/   or see his free self help program www.CureYourPanic.org.

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