What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and it is a type of anxiety disorder, therefore a lot of this information will be similar to that in my “The Brain, the Body, the Behaviour – anxiety” post. However I believe that PTSD is an important mental health illness to highlight on it’s own. It is well-known for being diagnosed amongst war veterans; previously known in the two world wars as ‘shell shock’. Due to the environment and events that occur during wars, PTSD is common among veterans with at least 20% of veterans of the Afganistan and Iraq Wars and 15% of veterans of the Vietnam war living with it.
However PTSD is not specific to those in the military. PTSD can occur to anyone who has been faced by a frightening or distressing life event. Those who have been involved in serious road accidents, who have suffered from long term abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, neglect, financial, etc.), those who have been the victim of an assault (again, physical, sexual, etc.), victims of terrorist attacks and natural disasters, or witnesses to violent deaths. PTSD can develop immediately after an event, or even weeks/months/years later, depending on personal circumstances, individual levels of resiliance, and the existence of other co-morbid mental health problems.