Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that may develop in response to an extremely disturbing, frightening, shocking, or otherwise traumatic experience. Military combat, being assaulted, living through a major natural disaster or accident, or other similar events may cause PTSD.

In recent times the label "PTSD" has become very popular, overused, and clearly misunderstood. While most individuals experience traumatic events throughout their lives, most will not develop PTSD. These traumatic experiences may even lead to some long-term changes in thoughts and behaviors. However, in most cases the individual will naturally process these events and gradually return to their normal baseline functioning. PTSD develops when the severity of the event is particularly extreme and/or the individuals ability to cope and process the event is below the threshold necessary for an extreme event. Instead of gradually returning to ones normal level of functioning, the individuals new baseline is a heightened survival mode; hypervigilance and hyperarousal may persist permanently, rather than gradually subsiding over time. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6.8% will develop PTSD at some point in their lives with 3.6% of adults having the disorder in the past year.

The defining criteria of PTSD briefly summarized (not all inclusive):

I) Experiencing or witnessing a dangerous or traumatic event - or learning the details of a dangerous and traumatic event that happened to a close friend or family member.

II) Experiencing intrusive and involuntary symptoms regarding the event. These may be memories, nightmares, flashbacks (realistic feelings of reliving the event in the present moment), or marked distress in response to environmental cues related to the event.

III) Chronic avoidance of places, people, things the individual sees as cues associated with the event.

IV) Significant negative changes to cognition or mood. May include new onset poor self-image, depressive symptoms, feeling isolated and detached, inability to remember important details about the event, and others.

V) Marked changes from ones baseline reactivity and arousal. This may be enhanced irritability or angry emotional outbursts, being started easily, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, self-destructive or reckless behavior.

To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD: Symptoms must persist for at least one month after the event occurred.

Treatment We Provide

We can diagnose PTSD during an initial evaluation and prescribe medication if appropriate. Please see our services & pricing page for more information on our evaluation.

References: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved March 2023, from