Posttraumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is characterized by being exposed to an event that threatens death, serious injury, or sexual violence, and afterwards experiencing intrusive symptoms, avoidance, changes in thoughts or mood, and heightened arousal. Intrusive symptoms include distressing memories or nightmares of the event, flashbacks or feelings of reliving the event, and distressing emotions and physiological symptoms upon experiencing cues similar to the event.
Symptoms may include
- Attempts to avoid internal experiences related to the trauma, like thoughts, memories, or feelings, as well as external reminders, like places, people, or activities.
- Changes in thoughts involving distressing beliefs about oneself, others, and the world, a heightened sense of danger, and blaming oneself for the event.
- Emotionally, there’s a persistent negative mood, diminished interest in normal activities, feeling detached from others, and an inability to experience positive emotions.
- Heightened arousal includes irritability and anger outbursts, reckless behavior, a focus on potential danger, an exaggerated startle response, and problems with sleep.