Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic series of events. The symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks and severe distress.
People who experience combat, violent crime, accidents, natural disasters or other traumatic events sometimes have difficulty adjusting for a period of time, but often recover with sufficient attention and care. If difficulty adjusting to trauma lasts for months or years and interferes with daily functioning, post-traumatic stress disorder is a possible cause.
The symptoms of PTSD often start within three months of exposure to the triggering event, but symptoms sometimes take years to emerge. Uncontrollable thoughts and intrusive memories or nightmares are common symptoms of PTSD. People with PTSD may have physical reactions or experience extreme anxiety in response to things that remind them of the trigger event. They may avoid people, places and objects that are reminders of the event.
Emotional responses that can result from PTSD include intense irritability, self-destructive behavior, guilt, difficulty concentrating and insomnia. Some changes in thinking and mood that are symptomatic of PTSD include difficulty with relationships, an inability to experience positive emotions, memory problems and a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities.