Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can be triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD is a medical diagnosis that applies when some one has difficulty coping with the after effects of trauma to the point where it disrupts their lives months or even years after the trauma occurred.

PTSD was once associated mainly with the survivors of war ,but today it is used to describe a wide range of trauma survivors –rape, crime, and torture victims; survivors of natural catastrophes, vehicular accidents, and technological disasters; and abused women and children. Also at high risk for PTSD are rescue squad workers, police officers, firefighters and nursing personnel who witnessed or experienced a traumatic or life threatening event that had the potential for bodily harm. Even people who had a miscarriage or experienced job loss may suffer from PTSD.

A clinical definition
Individuals must meet all the following criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD-
-Experienced or witnessed at least one trauma or life threatening event that had the potential for bodily harm to which they responded with fear, helplessness or horror.
-Continued reliving the trauma in the form of what is referred to as re-experiencing phenomena –nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic events.
-Numbing of emotions and persistent avoidance of situations reminiscent of the trauma
-Symptoms of physiological hyper arousal including startle response, difficulty falling asleep, irritability and hyper alertness.
-Persistence of symptoms for at least one month following the event.
-Evidence of clinically significant distress or dysfunction in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Primary symptoms of those who suffer PTSD include insomnia substance abuse, night mares anxiety, depression, anger and fear that the horror will return. Because emotional distress can be overlooked in injured patients, researchers in a recent study of injured and uninjured soldiers caution caregivers to pay more attention to psychological aspects of patients conditions in general and to the early symptoms of PTSD in particular, both during hospitalization and after discharge.

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