What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that people can develop after being exposed to one or more traumatic events such as a serious accident, combat, or sexual or physical assault. PTSD may also result from direct, indirect or repeated exposure to details of an event, as in the case of first responders, clinicians or other caregivers who work with trauma patients.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury created an easy-to-read infographic to review the basics of PTSD. This graphic available for download includes the common causes, symptom categories, PTSD numbers and clinically recommended treatment options.
Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts. Other symptoms include:
- Avoidance of people or places that are reminders of the traumatic event
- Negative mood or thoughts (excessive blame, fear, shame, guilt)
- Trouble recalling the traumatic event
- Feeling detached from others, or memories of the event
- Heightened arousal (feeling on edge) or reactivity such as jumpiness or greater irritability
A range of eight to 20 percent of the more than 2.6 million service members who deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom/ Iraqi Freedom/ New Dawn have or may develop symptoms of PTSD, according to a PTSD report by the Institute of Medicine.
PTSD is treatable. Many service members recover with help from psychotherapy such as prolonged exposure therapy and medication. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury helped develop clinical support tools that bring together important resources for providers, patients and family members. The tools support comprehensive, evidence-based treatment of PTSD.