Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects people who have been exposed to traumatic experiences. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that 3.5 percent of adults in the United States have PTSD, which is about 7.7 million people. Various types of trauma can trigger this anxiety disorder. For example, assault, domestic violence, war, terrorism, accidents and disasters can cause PTSD in some people. PTSD can develop at any point in a person's life, including childhood. The NIMH points out that the average age of onset is 23.
The symptoms of PTSD depend on the patient's emotional state. For example, when a patient is having a flashback or intrusive memory, she can have upsetting dreams about the event. When a PTSD patient is in the avoidance stage, she can become emotionally numb. She may try to avoid thinking about the event, which can include avoiding certain activities. The MayoClinic.com points out that she may have trouble getting close to people, which can affect her relationships. Problems with memory and concentration can occur. She may also feel hopeless about her future. During the emotionally aroused stage, the patient can become irritable and easily startled. She may feel guilty about what happened, even if it was not her fault, which can fuel self-destructive behavior. She can have trouble sleeping, and may see or hear things that do not exist.
Vietnam veterans are one group with a large percentage of PTSD cases. For example, the NIMH notes that 19 percent of Vietnam veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. Besides the emotional problems, PTSD can also affect patients' health.
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