DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while. But with time and taking care of yourself, such traumatic reactions usually get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Sometimes they may completely shake up your life. In a case such as this, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Getting treatment as soon as possible after post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms develop may prevent long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. ArlingtonWashington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Shalev AY. Posttraumatic stress disorder and stress-related disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2009;32:687.
- Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2010;4:414.
- May AC, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00025-1--sc30645&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00025-1--sc30645&uniqId=230982534-3. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Holzer SR. Mediational significance of PTSD in the relationship of sexual trauma and eating disorders. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal. 2008;32:561. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/citation/body/230982534-5/jorg=journal&source=MI&sp=20885418&sid=1101209736/N/20885418/1.html?issn=0145-2134. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Understanding PTSD. National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_ptsd/booklet.pdf. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Nakell L. Adult post-traumatic stress disorder: Screening and treating in primary care. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2007;34:593.
- Acupuncture may help symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/092107.htm. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Coping with traumatic stress reactions. National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/coping-traumatic-stress.asp. Accessed Jan. 12, 2011.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 11, 2011.