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What is it

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder.

PTSD develops after people have experienced a traumatic (really distressing) event, such as violence, rape, a life threatening situation, or abuse. Some people experience PTSD after witnessing something distressing, even if it didn’t happen to them. A wide range of traumatic events can cause PTSD.
Unfortunately, lots of people are impacted by distressing events, and many of them experience some symptoms of PTSD soon afterwards. This is sometimes described as an ‘acute stress reaction’. Many people find that the symptoms they experience at first disappear after a few weeks.
If someone’s symptoms go on for longer than a month, they might get a diagnosis of PTSD. Some people might be told they have a particular type of PTSD.

Feelings and behaviours

  • Having flashbacks or nightmares about what happened
  • Avoiding thinking about or doing things that might trigger memories of the traumatic event, keeping busy, or doing things to numb your feelings or memories
  • Being tense and on guard all the time, in case it happens again
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Experiencing anger that you can’t resolve
  • Feeling guilty about what happened or that you survived

Physical signs

  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle aches
  • Having trouble sleeping (finding it difficult to get to sleep or waking up lots)
  • Low energy

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