What is PTSD?
Post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or experiencing something distressing, such as an assault, accident, combat, or natural disaster. The brain’s normal fight-or-flight response becomes altered, and the person continues to feel stressed and anxious long after the event.
Approximately eight million people in the U.S. suffer from PTSD. Around 10 percent of women develop PTSD during their lives, while only about 4 percent of men are affected. Post traumatic stress disorder is common among veterans of military combat. Anyone of any age can get PTSD. Some people get it after a friend or family member experiences trauma, or when someone close to them dies suddenly.
Post traumatic stress disorder is treated with a combination of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy to help people understand their anxiety, and exposure therapy to help them face their fears. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements that help people process their responses to traumatic memories.
Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are prescribed for PTSD symptoms, and adrenaline blockers sometimes help with insomnia. However, these medications have undesirable side effects that often discourage people from continuing to take them. A significant number of PTSD patients do not respond well to pharmaceutical treatments.