Post-Traumatic Stress

Posttraumatic stress (PTS) is a condition that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life. While most people who have witnessed traumatic events will not develop PTS Disorder, individuals who witnessed frequent traumatic events, the traumatic event was extremely intense/horrible, or endured long durations are especially susceptible. Symptoms may include disturbing recurring thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, emotional or physical distress to trauma-related cues, attempts to avoid these trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight-or-flight response. These symptoms become especially problematic if they last for more than a month after the event. Young children are less likely to show distress but instead may express their memories through play, drawings, or misbehavior. A person with PTSD is at a higher risk for suicide and intentional self-harm. Empirically supported treatments include: cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization therapy. Medication management may help, although some medications (benzodiazapines) are not recommended.