PTSD affects approximately 3. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.
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People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
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A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting traumatic event. However, exposure could be indirect rather than first hand. It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases. Many people who are exposed to a traumatic event experience symptoms like those described above in the days following the event.
For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, symptoms last for more than a month and often persist for months and sometimes years. Many individuals develop symptoms within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later. For people with PTSD the symptoms cause significant distress or problems functioning. PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other physical and mental health problems.
It is important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD, and not everyone who develops either requires psychiatric treatment. For some people, symptoms of PTSD subside or disappear over time. Others get better with the help of family, friends or clergy.
But many people with PTSD need professional treatment to recover from psychological distress that can be intense and disabling.
It is important to remember that trauma may lead to severe distress. The earlier a person gets treatment, the better the likely outcome. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use various effective research-proven methods to help people recover from PTSD. Both talk therapy psychotherapy and medication provide effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD.
One category of psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapies CBT , is very effective.
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Cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy and stress inoculation therapy described below are among the types of CBT used to treat PTSD. Cognitive Processing Therapy focuses on modifying painful negative emotions such as shame, guilt, etc. Therapists help the person confront such distressing memories and emotions. For example, virtual reality programs have been used to help war veterans with PTSD re-experience the battlefield in a controlled, therapeutic way.
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Acute Stress Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
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