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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (cont'd)

Post-traumatic stress is a normal response to a very bad situation, but that doesn't make it less debilitating. It can affect children as well as adults, men as well as women.

Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. One theory is that you may be particularly vulnerable to PTSD if you've previously experienced repeated or continuous stress in the past. Individuals may also carry genes that predispose them to PTSD.

PTSD is not the same for all sufferers. Symptoms can develop all once, gradually, or can be sporadic. People may also experience symptoms differently.

Some common signs of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event (which can include emotional and physical reactions and nightmares)
  • Feelings of numbness and detachment
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Avoiding places, people, and things that remind you of the trauma
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling jittery
  • Hypervigilance (feeling that you have to constantly be alert)
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, chest pain

PTSD is NOT a sign of weakness. It's associated with physical changes in your brain and can be accompanied by serious physical health consequences. Early treatment can help.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.

Liberzon, I., & Sripada, C.S. (2008). The functional neuroanatomy of PTSD: a critical review. Progressive Brain Research, 167, 151-169.

Resources for PTSD

This site provides some general information on the relationships between stress and health. However, your individual situation is unique. Your health care provider is best suited to work with you on a health care strategy that fits your needs. Content on this site was written by Dianne Rees, JD, PhD (last updated December, 9, 2009) and is not sponsored by third parties.