PTSD is a mental disorder that develops after you experience or witness a traumatic event, such as a car accident, war, murder, or physical abuse. PTSD can continue to affect your life for many years after the trauma, interfering with your ability to live, work, and interact with others normally.
Researchers don’t know why some people develop PTSD after a traumatic event and others don’t. However, having certain risk factors may make PTSD more likely. For example, if you have a family history of depression or anxiety, you’re at a higher risk of developing PTSD. In addition, experiencing high levels of stress or multiple traumas can also increase your risk.
The symptoms of PTSD vary considerably. Some of the most common symptoms of this disorder include:
Dr. Horne diagnoses PTSD based on your symptoms and the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Before making a formal diagnosis, Dr. Horne usually conducts a physical exam and psychiatric evaluation to determine whether you meet these criteria. He may also ask about your history to identify any traumatic events that may have led to this disorder.
The goal of PTSD treatment is to help you overcome the symptoms associated with the disorder, avoid relapses, and deal with any other problems you may have developed to mask the disorder, such as addictions to drugs or alcohol. One of the most effective treatment options for patients with PTSD is psychotherapy, which focuses on helping you respond to triggers differently.
Patients with PTSD may also need medication to control anxiety or other symptoms. You may take medication on a long-term basis, or you may take it only when your symptoms are particularly severe.
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