"Post-traumatic stress disorder." World of Health. Gale, 2007. Student Resources in Context. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that affects people who have been exposed to a major traumatic event. PTSD is characterized by upsetting memories or thoughts of the ordeal, blunting of emotions, increased arousal, and, sometimes, severe personality changes. Once called shell shock or battle fatigue, PTSD is most well known as a problem of war veterans returning from the battlefield. However, it can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, such as rape, robbery, a natural disaster, or a serious accident. A diagnosis of a serious disease can trigger PTSD in some people. Considered to be one of a group of conditions known as anxiety disorders, it can affect people of all ages who have experienced severe trauma. Children who have experienced severe trauma, such as war, a natural disaster, sexual or physical abuse, or the death of a parent, are also prone to PTSD.
According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, in 2003, about 5.2 million adults in the United States suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which relates to about 3.6 percent of the adult population.
PTSD is a response to a profoundly disturbing event. It is not clear why some people develop PTSD following a trauma and others do not, although experts suspect it may be influenced by whether or not the trauma was expected, the severity of the event, how chronic the trauma was (such as for victims of sexual abuse), and by the person's personality and genetic make-up. As the individual struggles to cope with life after the event, ordinary events or situations reminiscent of the trauma often trigger frightening and vivid memories, or flashbacks.
Symptoms usually begin within three months of the trauma, although sometimes PTSD does not develop until years after the initial trauma occurred. Once the symptoms begin, they may fade away...