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The Military Combat Stress Relief Foundation


What Is PTSD?


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the development of characteristic and persistent symptoms, along with difficulty functioning after exposure to a life-threatening experience or to an event that either involves a threat to life or serious injury. Symptoms of PTSD may diminish with the passage of time, or they may persist for many years. PTSD often occurs together with, or precedes other psychiatric illnesses. Patients are most likely to present to primary care with unexplained somatic and/or psychological symptoms (e.g., sleep disturbance, night sweats, fatigue, and difficulty with memory or concentration). The common symptoms after exposure to trauma are included below.

The symptoms required for the diagnosis of PTSD may be divided into 3 clusters and should be present for at least 1 month.


Intrusion or re-experiencing - memories of the trauma or "flashbacks" that occur unexpectedly; these may include nightmares, intrusive mental images or extreme emotional distress, and/or physiological reactivity on exposure to reminders of the traumatic event.

Avoidance - avoiding people, places, thoughts, or activities that bring back memories of the trauma; this may involve feeling numb or emotionless, withdrawing from family and friends, or "self-medicating" by abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Hyperarousal - feeling "on guard" or irritable, having sleep problems, having difficulty concentrating, feeling overly alert and being easily startled, or having sudden outbursts of anger.


At Ease, Warrior Program