Posttraumatic stress disorder
Butler, Robert W. Department of Psychology, Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
Last reviewed:May 2021
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An anxiety disorder in some individuals who have experienced a stressful and traumatic event that poses a direct threat to the individual's or another person's life. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental-health condition that is triggered in some individuals after being exposed to a highly traumatic event; these events include exposure to war combat, natural or human-caused disasters, physical attack, sexual assault, and childhood abuse. As with other anxiety disorders, the characteristic features of posttraumatic stress disorder are fear (particularly in the ongoing absence of a real-life threat to safety) and avoidance behavior. People typically develop posttraumatic stress disorder shortly after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, but it may take many months, or even years, to develop. People of all ages can be affected by this disorder (Fig. 1), and the sufferers of this condition experience severe anxiety and flashbacks, have trouble sleeping or have nightmares, are prone to angry outbursts, and feel lonely, overly worried, and depressed. See also: Anxiety disorders; Mental disorders; Stress (psychology)
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