If someone has had a traumatic experience in her life, she may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a type of anxiety disorder in which she re-experiences that traumatic event. In the United States, about 7.7 million adults have PTSD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This anxiety disorder can also affect children. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that between 15 to 43 percent of girls experience at least one traumatic event, and of those girls, between 3 and 15 percent of them will develop PTSD.
Several different events can cause PTSD to occur. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition Text Revision(DSM-IV-TR), which mental health professionals use to diagnose PTSD, traumatic experiences listed include experiencing a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition, torture, kidnapping, disasters, severe motor vehicle accidents, hostage situations, combat or a violent personal assault, such as sexual assault, mugging or a physical attack. The time frame for the onset of PTSD symptoms can range from right after the trauma to six months or more afterward. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, notes that if a person develops PTSD soon after her traumatic experience, the disorder improves after three months; however, some people can have PTSD symptoms that last for years.
With PTSD, patients can relive the experience, which interferes in their daily lives. One such symptom is a flashback, in which the PTSD patient feels like she is living the event again. These flashbacks can occur often.