Definition of PTSD


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What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD?

The World Health Organization's, Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, indicates that PTSD is a condition that causes people who are effected to commonly experience a repeat of the event or events that caused their chronic problems. These visual and auditory experiences are often referred to as Intrusive Memories or Intrusive Dreams. These are more commonly known as Flashbacks. Various debilitating symptoms are associated with the condition. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-experiencing the event through vivid memories or flash backs.  Feeling “Emotionally or Physically numb”.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by what would normally be considered everyday situations.  Having diminished interest in performing normal tasks or pursuing usual interests .

  • Crying uncontrollably.  Isolating oneself from family and friends and avoiding social situations. A feeling of detachment from other people. Specific avoidance of situations and activities that resemble the trauma.

  • Relying increasingly on alcohol or drugs to get through the day.

  • Feeling extremely moody, irritable, angry, suspicious or frightened. An enhanced startle response is evident. 

  • Experiencing a state of autonomic hyper-arousal with hyper-vigilance.

  • Having difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much and experiencing nightmares 

  • Feeling guilty about surviving the event or being unable to solve the problem, change the event or prevent the disaster.

  • Feeling fears and sense of doom about the future. Unresponsiveness to surroundings.

  • Experiencing ongoing health problems.


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When does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Occur?

This disorder occurs when a person has been exposed to an extreme traumatic stress situation in which both of the following conditions were present:

  • The person directly experienced an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one's physical integrity; or the person witnessed an event or events that involved death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or the person learned about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate; and

  • The person's response to the event or events must involve intense fear, helplessness or horror

(References from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) (1994) at Section 309.81)

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How to get Help

If you think that you or another Vet that you know, may have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the following links will provide Help and Resources. You will find links that will aid in the diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating condition. You will also find resources to guide you through the process of filing a disability claim to obtain medical help for PTSD related problems.

Military Veterans
PTSD Reference Manual


Vietnam Veteran Association's
Guide to PTSD


American Veterans Collection
 PTSD workshop resources


Post Traumatic Stress
Resources Web Page  

Professional information on 
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome


Trauma Info pages
David Baldwin's listing of Web resources on clinical and research aspects of trauma responses and their resolution


International Society for
Traumatic Stress Studies

Information about ISTSS, an international organization of clinicians, researchers, and others professionally interested in PTSD.


The American Academy of
Experts in Traumatic Stress


US National Center
for PTSD, Research and Education on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Trauma Web
Dr Grant Devilly's listing of Web resources on PTSD, veteran's issues, and topics.


Yale Psychiatric Institute
Trauma Assessment Unit

The Trauma Assessment Unit conducts research on the biological effects of trauma with a goal for better treatment of those inflicted with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Medications For Combat PTSD
Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.
Educational material for combat veterans, useful to others, such as veterans' spouses and non-physician mental health professionals.


PTSD Support Services
A resource to help Individuals, Groups, Service Organizations and Clergy/Church leaders to learn about working with "PTSD and its Associated Anxiety Problems."


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