Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Health Center

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. Approximately 11 million people in the United States suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD occurs when an individual experiences an extremely stressful event such as a war, natural disaster, or automobile accident.

When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

Sufferers experience flashbacks, extreme anxiety, and fear to the point where they are unable to function normally in their daily lives. PTSD is usually treated with anti-depressant (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa) and anti-anxiety (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax) medications, along with cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at changing thoughts, behaviors, and facing and understanding fears. Diagnosis is made after symptoms persist for six months or longer.

Review Date: 
March 13, 2012
Last Updated:
July 2, 2013