Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. It can be anything that is out of the ordinary or deeply distressing to someone such as an accident, a fire or witnessing a traumatic event such as a death. It can also be large scale following a major natural disaster. Deliberate acts of violence, for example, being held at gunpoint or raped, are more likely to result in PTSD than natural events or accidents. Common symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the event in nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding things or places associated with the event, panic attacks, sleep disturbance and poor concentration. Depression, emotional numbing, drug or alcohol misuse and anger are also common. People with PTSD usually develop the symptoms immediately after the traumatic event but some people develop symptoms much later. People experiencing PTSD may not seek treatment for months or years after the onset of symptoms because they do not think they can be helped.
Read the NHS self-help guide to Post Traumatic Stress.