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What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster. Most people have some stress reactions after a trauma. If the reactions disrupt your life and don't go away over time, you may have PTSD.

There are four main types of PTSD symptoms:

  • Reliving the event
  • Avoiding reminders of the event
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  • Feeling keyed up

About 8 out of every 100 people (or 8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Going through a trauma does not mean you'll get PTSD. Even though over half of us go through some type of trauma, a much smaller percent develop PTSD.

Survivors like myself have such serious guilt about making it through. I gave it all and made it home and carry the burden of being a survivor.“ Craig "Stu" Shipley

What if I have PTSD, but do not get treatment?

Sometimes people with PTSD assume their PTSD symptoms will go away with enough time. This might be the case for some people, but not for everyone.

Most people who are going to get better without treatment get better in the first year. So, if you have had your symptoms for more than a year, they are likely to be long-lasting without treatment.

How is PTSD treated?

There is no single treatment that will work for every person with PTSD. But in general, people who receive an evidence-based treatment (a treatment proven to work in multiple research studies) for PTSD show a noticeable improvement in their symptoms, and many no longer have PTSD.

In this decision aid, you can learn about evidence-based PTSD treatments, including different types of psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or counseling) and medication.