What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
The term posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a syndrome that may occur after stressful traumatic events such as accidents or sexual abuse. The onset of PTSD is in most cases a few weeks to months after the traumatic event.
The typical symptoms of PTSD include episodes of repeated reliving of the trauma in intrusive memories (so-called intrusions or flashbacks), dreams or nightmares, and a persistent feeling of numbness and emotional apathy. A lot of patients experience feelings of bleakness and indifference. Added to this is an avoidance of activities and situations that might evoke memories of the trauma.
Many patients experience feelings of over-arousal with increased alertness (a so-called hypervigilance) and increased nervousness. The PTSD is often accompanied by anxiety disorders and depression.