Traumatic events can leave psychological scars in their wake. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a direct response to experiencing or witnessing a disturbing event. This includes violent personal attacks, abuse, accidents, and natural disasters. Not everyone who endures a traumatic event will be diagnosed with PTSD, as individuals experiencing the same situation may have different psychological reactions. Approximately 8% of the population will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime.
The majority of people who live through trauma will have a period of adjustment while trying to reconcile their experience with the world around them. This can last for several days or weeks. PTSD occurs when this initial shock response becomes prolonged. Common signs of PTSD include flashbacks, sleep disturbances, and unusual changes in mood or demeanor. It can sometimes take months for the symptoms to start appearing and this delay may make it more difficult for the person or their family and friends to recognize that they are struggling with PTSD.