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Definition: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology

An ANXIETY DISORDER that emerges following a psychologically distressing, traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a bad accident, war or rape. The syndrome includes re-experiencing the trauma in dreams, recurrent thoughts and images, a kind of psychological numbness with an accompanying lessening of feeling of involvement with the world around one, hypervigilance, and an exaggerated startle response. In psychiatric diagnosis, the term is not applied until the symptoms have continued for at least a month; prior to that the condition is called an acute stress disorder.


Summary Article: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Black's Medical Dictionary, 42nd Edition

A term introduced to PSYCHIATRY in 1980 after the Vietnam War. It is one of several psychiatric disorders that can develop in people exposed to severe trauma, such as a major physical injury, participation in warfare, assault or rape, or any event in which there is major loss of life or a threat of loss of life. Most people exposed to trauma do not develop psychiatric disorder; however, some develop immediate distress and, occasionally, the reaction can be delayed for many months. Someone with PTSD has regular recurrences of memories or images of the stressful event (‘flashbacks'), especially when reminded of it. Insomnia, feelings of guilt and isolation, an inability to concentrate and irritability may result. DEPRESSION is very common. Support from friends and family is probably the best management, but those who do not recover quickly can be helped by antidepressants and psychological treatments such as COGNITIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY. Over the past few years, PTSD has featured increasingly in compensation litigation.

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