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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a difficult diagnosis to understand and cope with.  Most frequently, we hear about soldiers and veterans returning from war and suffering from PTSD, but PTSD can occur after a wide variety of traumas.  This can include but is not limited to war, terrorism, disaster, motor vehicle accidents, sexual assault, and other types of violence.  After a traumatic event it is normal to experience stress, but if the stress or symptoms last longer than three months, interfere with everyday life, or cause extreme distress, you should seek help.  There are four different types of PTSD symptoms, and people may experience just some or all of them.  PTSD may also come along with feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other conditions. 

The first classification of PTSD symptoms is called reliving the event. These symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, experience triggers (such as a sound or smell that causes you to relive the event), or anything that may cause you to feel the same horror and fear as when the event took place.  The next type of symptom is avoiding situations that remind you of the event.  For example, if you were in a car accident, you may avoid driving, or even getting into a car.  The third classification of symptoms is a negative change in beliefs and feelings.  These negative feelings may be toward yourself or others, and may cause you to pull away from relationships and activities.  The last type of symptom is called hyperarousal, or feeling jittery and on the lookout.  These feelings might make it difficult to fall asleep or concentrate, and can make you feel as if you are in constant danger.  As I mentioned above, you may not experience all of these symptoms, but if you have been through a traumatic event and begin experiencing any of these symptoms, we are ready to help you.  Something that is important to note is that PTSD symptoms often do not begin immediately after the event, they can appear weeks, months, or even years later.  Symptoms may also come and go over a series of years.

There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a person will develop PTSD, but it is important to mention that it is not a weakness. Some people may feel ashamed that they have developed PTSD, especially when they know others in their position who have not developed PTSD. However, PTSD can happen to anyone. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, and it most definitely can be improved or even go away with treatment.