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You may have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), if you’ve been through a traumatic event and are having trouble dealing with it. Such events may include a car crash, rape, domestic violence, military combat, or violent crime. While it is normal to have some anxiety after such an event, it usually goes away in time. But with PTSD, the anxiety is more intense and keeps coming back. And the trauma is relived through nightmares, intrusive memories, and flashbacks. These can be vivid memories that seem real. The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with relationships and make it hard to cope with daily life. But it can be treated. With help, you can feel better.
PTSD may be triggered by something that:
There are many risk factors for developing PTSD. Recognizing and addressing them can help prevent PTSD, when possible. These risk factors include:
Symptoms of PTSD last more than a month. They may include:
The symptoms of PTSD may look like other mental health conditions. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Not every person who goes through a trauma develops PTSD, or experiences symptoms at all. PTSD is diagnosed if your symptoms last more than one month. Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the trauma, but can also start months or years later.
How long this illness lasts varies. Some people recover within 6 months, others have symptoms that last much longer.
Specific treatment for PTSD will be decided by your healthcare provider based on:
You may think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In fact, taking action to make your life better takes a lot of courage. Talking about a trauma can be hard, but it can make a big difference. The main treatment for PTSD is counseling. You’ll work with a trained therapist to learn new ways to cope with your experiences. Medicine may also be prescribed to help with anxiety, depression, or sleep. Most people with PTSD have a combination of counseling and medicine for treatment.
Counseling is done in a safe environment, either one-on-one or in a group. Group therapy is often done with other people who have been through similar events. PTSD is often treated with one or more of the following forms of counseling. Talk with your healthcare provider about your options so you can decide on a counseling format that works for you.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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