What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
There is much talk in the media over soldiers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) However, it is not only soldiers who have been in battle who can suffer from this disorder. Even though PTSD is traditionally called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome and it appears most often in military veterans, PTSD can be diagnosed in anyone who has been through or witnessed a traumatic event.
When a person experiences a fear that is so intense and experiences lasting helplessness and/or horror related to the event, there is the possibility for PTSD to manifest itself in that person. PTSD is seen in a person when there is a history of physical abuse or sexual assault. In addition, it can also happen to people if a person who is close to them dies unexpectedly, there is a horrible accident, witness acts of war or are native to a region where there is ongoing civil turmoil, or are involved in a natural disaster.
An example of PTSD occurring in a person who was not directly involved in a battle or act of war is the ongoing effects and symptoms reported by survivors of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Many of these people were front and center and the events they witnessed have caused this disorder to surface.
PTSD is not the normal occurrence of shock, anger, nervousness, fear or guilt after a traumatic event that could be associated with “survivor’s syndrome.” These reactions are very commonplace and go away naturally over time or with the help of a therapist or mental health professional. Instead, someone who suffers from PTSD will have their feelings and symptoms evolve over time into a disorder that will keep them from functioning in a normal capacity.