Font Size

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an intense emotional and psychological response to a recent or past traumatic event. A traumatic event is life-threatening and very disturbing or stressful; PTSD can develop after a person has lived through or seen this kind of event, such as rape, a natural disaster, or war.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Reliving the event through dreams (nightmares) or while awake (flashbacks).
  • Not being able to feel or express emotions toward family, friends, and loved ones (emotional numbness).
  • Avoiding any reminders of the event.
  • Being easily angered or aroused, "on edge," or easily startled (hyperarousal).

Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder includes counseling and medicines, such as antidepressants and antianxiety medicines.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Last RevisedJanuary 13, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary