What is PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something terrible and scary that you see, hear about, or that happens to you, like:

  • Combat exposure

  • Child sexual or physical abuse

  • Terrorist attack

  • Sexual or physical assault

  • Serious accidents, like a car wreck

  • Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake

During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don't go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

How does PTSD develop?

Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn't clear why some people develop PTSD and others don't.

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:


  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted

  • If you were injured or lost someone important to you

  • How close you were to the event

  • How strong your reaction was

  • How much you felt in control of events

  • How much help and support you got after the event

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches

  • Stomach problems

  • Changes in breathing patterns (i.e. shortness of breath)

  • Lack of energy OR

  • Sometimes being very active and over-energetic

  • Sleep problems

  • Feeling of emotional pain that you have never felt before

  • Anxiety problems

  • Hypersensitivity

  • Hyper-vigilance (always on alert)

PTSD symptoms usually do not begin to surface until 3-6 months after the deployed soldier returns home.