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What is PTSD

What is PTSD

When bad things happen to good people.

What would it take to totally stop you in your tracks? A serious illness or accident? Sexual assault or abuse? The death of a parent or a friend? A natural disaster or a war that strikes close to home?

Psychological distress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Any severe injury or emotional upset that puts you over the edge qualifies. The official name for it is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder—or PTSD, and it’s important to know that anyone who experiences a severe injury or emotional upset is at risk. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD affects nearly eight million people in the United States alone. And PTSD affects each person differently.

Who can get PTSD?

  • Anyone who has survived a life-threatening situation
  • Anyone who has witnessed or been exposed to a life-threatening situation
  • Anyone who has survived a dangerous event, such as an accident or a natural disaster
  • Anyone who has experienced the death of a friend or relative
  • Anyone who has been abused in any way

What are some symptoms of PTSD?

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling numb, detached and powerless
  • Avoiding people and places that make you “remember”
  • Persistent depression
  • Persistent anger or edginess
  • Violent mood swings
  • Loss of motivation
  • Decreased interest in things you enjoy
  • Hypervigilance
  • Increased irritability
  • Extreme jumpiness

What you need to know

Some people react immediately to a crisis in their lives. Others tough it out and get through the worst times, only to have difficulty coping months after the crisis has passed. Whether you are affected directly or indirectly by a trauma, when it comes to managing a personal crisis, it’s only human that each person will react in his or her own way and in his or her own time.

You’re not going crazy

If you have strong painful feelings that won’t go away…if you just can’t get out of bed in the morning…if you’re missing classes and cutting yourself off from friends…if it’s been more than a month since you felt “normal,” you may be suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Where to go for help

While nothing can make your bad memories disappear, PTSD is treatable. To find the treatment that’s right for you, speak to your RA, talk to someone in the Dean of Students Office or contact the Health & Counseling Center on campus.