PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. For some people, symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.
If you are providing care to a Veteran displaying symptoms of PTSD and need guidance, please fill out our contact form and we will connect you with support as quickly as possible.
Note: this information is described as applying to Veterans, but is applicable to any individual. Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD.
The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era and symptoms do not always present themselves in a typical manner at the end of life. If you are providing care to a Veteran and need guidance on general issues, please contact us. Support from the VA’s PTSD Consultation Program is available to any provider, whether inside the VA or not.
Some examples of life-threatening events may include:
- Combat or military exposure
- Child sexual or physical abuse
- Terrorist attacks
- Sexual or physical assault
- Serious accidents, such as a car wreck
- Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake
After the event, the Veteran may feel scared, confused, or angry. If these feelings don’t go away or they get worse, the symptoms may disrupt the person’s life, making it hard to continue daily activities. All Veterans with PTSD have lived through a traumatic event that caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD. Most Veterans who go through a traumatic event have some symptoms at the beginning. Yet only some will develop PTSD; the reason for this is not clear. How likely someone is to get PTSD depends on many things:
- How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
- If someone close was lost hurt
- Proximity to the event
- Strength of the reaction to the event
- How much the Veteran felt in control of events
- How much help and support the Veteran got after the event
Many who develop PTSD may improve, though about 1 out of 3 with PTSD may continue to have some symptoms. Even with continued symptoms, treatment can help; symptoms don’t have to interfere with everyday activities, work, and relationships.