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What Is PTSD?

By Colleen M. Crary, M.A., Ph.D. (abd)


     What Is PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is what people experience following a traumatic event, and not just War Veterans: Law enforcement
personnel, emergency response workers, crime victims, and survivors of child
abuse, human trafficking, torture, man-made and natural disasters, and all
physical, sexual, psychological, and verbal trauma – including bullying.


    PTSD has a ripple effect, resonating outward to family, friends and colleagues. Responses to the trauma involve intense fear, helplessness, and horror.
PTSD is a Normal Response by Normal People to an Abnormal Event. A perfectly natural reaction to trauma.

     PTSD disrupts one’s ability to work, destroys relationships and even the
enjoyment of previously enjoyed activities. Persistent, involuntary re-experiencing
of the trauma (flashbacks), going involuntarily numb (shock, dissociation),
nightmares, intense reactions to traumatic reminders, inability to recall key
features of the event, persistent negative beliefs and expectations about oneself
or the world and blame of self or others, survivor guilt, feeling alienated from
others (isolation, intense aloneness), feeling panic when people get too close,
irritable or aggressive behavior, self-destructive or reckless behavior, exaggerated
startle response, problems concentrating.

     Survivors need a place and group to express their feelings about what they’ve
been through. Relatives and friends can help by encouraging them to talk about
it, allowing them to be upset, getting them to talk to other survivors, and not
letting them fall into a pattern of hermit-like isolation.