Post traumatic stress disorder (abbreviated PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more traumatic events that threatened or caused great physical harm.

It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. This stressor may involve someone's actual death, a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, an unwanted sexual act, or a threat to physical or psychological integrity, overwhelming psychological defenses.

In some cases it can also be from profound psychological and emotional trauma, apart from any actual physical harm. Often, however, incidents involving both things are found to be the cause.

PTSD is a condition distinct from the normal healthy emotional stress response that every human body feels after you had a traumatic event which has less intensity and duration.

PTSD has also been recognized in the past as railway spine, stress syndrome, shell shock, battle fatigue, traumatic war neurosis, or post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Diagnostic symptoms include reexperience such as flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, increased arousal such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilance. Per definition, the symptoms last more than six months and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (e.g. problems with work and relationships).

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Official Guide to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is Dr. Diane England. This New Jersey native, now a resident of New Hampshire, had gained, while working for the military, the knowledge and comfort level needed to discuss two issues often confronted by couples impacted by PTSD--domestic violence and suicide risk. As an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Diane England had taught anger management courses for couples--assisted by graduate students she supervised. Prior to that, she had developed training modules, manuals, and conferences for the national center for the second largest voluntary health organization. She had managed patient services and professional education at the state level in Oregon for what was the largest voluntary health organization. Furthermore, she had begun her professional career with the Cooperative EXtension System, serving first as an Extension Agent and later, as the first Child Dvelopment and Family Relations Specialist at the University of Idaho Extension Service. This had given Diane England, Ph.D. the opportunity to educate adults on how to create healthier families and better lives--within this organization in which the federal, state, and local governments all cooperated.

Additional Resources on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be found at:

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Dr. Diane England, The Official Guide to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder