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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) is essentially an anxiety disorder. It develops in response to traumatic or life-threatening experiences such as war, sexual assault, accidents, or natural disasters. Some symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Emotional Symptoms: anxiety, anger, depression, irritability, sadness
  • Physical Symptoms: tiredness, increased perspiration, high or low blood pressure, trouble digesting food

Stress affects our autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system; these physical systems are all interdependent on each other. How we perceive stress plays an important role in how our bodies respond physically to stress.

High amounts of inflammatory hormones are dumped into our systems in response to stressful or traumatic situations, but these hormones are released even at the memory of trauma. So PTSD can be thought of as an emotional stress overload.
In fact, the latest research shows that PTSD actually causes a part of the brain called the amygdala to shrink. The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes emotions and fear. Researchers believe that when the amygdala is smaller, it makes it more difficult for people to process their anxiety resulting from trauma.

Posttraumatic stress disorder was first clinically observed during the Civil War and gained additional notice during World War I. Today, we understand a great deal more about PTSD. The research surrounding this mental illness, its causes, and its treatments is robust.

According The National Center for PTSD (a division of the US Department of Veteran Affairs), roughly 5% of men and 10% of women living in the United States will develop PTSD at some point during their lifetime. This accounts for 6-7 million adults in the United States today that suffer from PTSD, but even children can develop PTSD. This number is expected to rise due to the increasing unrest in our world today.

Instances of posttraumatic stress disorder dramatically increases among our military: up to thirty percent of women or men in active war zones go on to develop PTSD. (From www.ptsdalliance.org)

Click on the links below for more information on PTSD:

National organizations:
PTSD VA
PSTD Alliance

Local organization:
Pensacola Vet Center
4504 Twin Oaks Drive, Pensacola, FL 32506
850-456-5886 or 877-927-8387

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