Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

By Nancy Buthman, APRN

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, combat, rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury. Sometimes, the event is not necessarily a dangerous one as in the unexpected death of a loved one.

Risk Factors

A person is more likely to develop PTSD if any of the following are present.

  1. Stressful experiences, intense or long-lasting trauma
  2. History of other mental health problems
  3. Lacking a good support system
  4. Women more likely than men
  5. Childhood trauma
  6. Working a job which may expose you to traumatic events such as the military or emergency medicine.
  7. Covid related issues



There are 4 types.

  1. Intrusion or Re-experiencing symptoms

Intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, frightening thoughts, repeated involuntary memories.

  1. Avoidance symptoms

Avoiding places, thoughts, people.

  1. Arousal and reactivity symptoms

Irritable, reckless, self-destructive behavior. Easily startled, feeling tense, trouble sleeping or concentrating, angry outbursts.

  1. Cognition and mood symptoms (negative changes in thinking and mood).

Losing interest in things you once liked. Negative thoughts about self and others. Difficulty maintaining close relationships. Unable to experience positive emotions. Hopelessness about the future. Trouble concentrating. Feeling blame and guilt. Not able to remember details of the event.

How is PTSD Diagnosed

Someone must have each of these for at least one month.

  1. At least one re-experiencing symptom
  2. At least one avoidance symptom
  3. At least two arousal and reactivity symptom
  4. At least two cognitive and mood symptoms.


  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A type of talk therapy that helps you recognize the ways of thinking that are keeping you stuck as in negative beliefs about yourself and the risk of traumatic things happening again.

  1. Exposure Therapy

Helps you safely face both situations and memories that are frightening so you can learn to cope with them effectively.

  1. Medicine Therapy

Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds and others

  1. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Combines guided eye movement and exposure therapy to process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.

  1. Acupuncture
  2. Group Therapy
  3. Animal-assisted therapy, especially dogs.

How you can help

  1. Recognize the symptoms
  2. Get professional help. P.T.S.D. cannot be resolved without it. The Beacon can help you find the help that is needed.
  3. Be a good listener.