Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is perhaps the most common disability faced by America’s finest men and women who have returned home from the frontlines. However, psychiatrists classify PTSD, generally, as a type of anxiety disorder borne from one’s exposure to extreme distress, especially when his or her life was at stake. This means that while PTSD is usually associated with military personnel who have served in the war, it is also suffered by people who have lived through a major natural disaster, a car crash, or any traumatic event, including years of sexual abuse.
“Diagnosing” PTSD is easier said than done because its symptoms are rather discreet and sometimes ambiguous. However, they can be roughly classified using three categories, re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal.
Re-experiencing refers to flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts that the sufferer encounters at any time, thus disrupting his or her daily routine. These symptoms can lead to avoidance, which sees the sufferer avoiding certain activities, people, and objects that remind him or her of the traumatic experience. Hyperarousal, meanwhile, is the culmination of these symptoms, and it makes the sufferer more irritable, anxious, and prone to outbursts.
A person can only be diagnosed with PTSD if he or she exhibits these symptoms for at least one month. On the other hand, a chronic inability to go to work or undertake important everyday tasks, such as cooking, are signs of serious PTSD. Fortunately, either condition can be treated with the help of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and the like.