What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is the name for a change that occurs to a person’s overall emotional, psychological and behavioral reactions to having had exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence that occurred by one or more of the following:  The individual must have experienced one or more of the following.

  • Directly experiencing a traumatic event or seeing in person the event happen to another person.
  • Hearing that a traumatic event(s) happened to a close family member or friend. The things that happened must have been violent or accidental.
  • Hearing repeated accounts or have exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event like first responders to catastrophic events, for instance first responders collecting human remains, firemen responders to tragic events or police exposure to repeated details of child abuse.

What kind of symptoms might occur?

The individual must have one or more of the following intrusive symptoms that are related to and start after the trauma.

  • Re-occurring uninvited distressing memories of the trauma event(s).
  • Re-occurring distressing dreams about or issues related to the traumatic event(s).
  • Flashback in which the individual as though the event is reoccurring now.
  • Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that remind the person of the traumatic event.
  • Intense physiological reactions to internal or external cues that remind a person of the traumatic event.

The individual must be avoiding in one or both of the following ways.

  • Effort to avoid distressing memories, thoughts or feelings associated with the traumatic event.
  • Efforts to avoid external reminders like people, places, conversations, activities, objects or situations that may produce distressing memories, thoughts or feelings connected to the trauma.

The individual must be experiencing a change in at least two of the following aspect of thinking and mood.

  • An inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event.
  • Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about self, others and the world like, I’m ruined, The world is all bad, I’m bad.
  • Wrongly assuming that that the event was your fault or wrongly assigning blame to others.
  • Experiencing chronic negative states like fear, horror, guilt or shame.
  • Reduction or loss of interest in significant activities.
  • Feeling detached or estranged from others.
  • Persistent inability to experience positive emotions like happiness, satisfaction or loving feelings.

The individual is experiencing a change in mood arousal in at least two of the following ways.

  • Increased irritable and angry outburst with little or no reason which can result in verbal and physical aggression to people or objects.
  • Reckless and self-destructive behavior.
  • Exaggerated startle response.
  • Problems with concentration.
  • Sleep Disturbance.

The individual must have had the disturbance for more than a month.

The disturbance causes significant distress or impairment in with social connections, work or other occupational activities.

The disturbance is not caused by substance, medication or another medical condition.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing  all or in part the above symptoms please contact me or another professional for a full evaluation.  Please take care.  With kindness, Harold.

Please see the DSM-5, fifth for further information on PTSD or go to www.psych.org.

For individuals in the Philadelphia, Main Line, Montgomery County, and surrounding areas, please reach out for help.