The fields of Medicine and Psychology used to believe that only combat veterans could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As awareness has increased, we now know that people that experience or witness these things are at risk for developing PTSD:

Combat Veterans
Victims of Sexual Assault
Victims of Domestic Violence
Witnesses of Domestic Violence
Survivors of fatal accidents (traffic, planes, construction, etc.)
Survivors of terrorist attacks
Survivors of natural disasters

PTSD affects the individual in four areas (Meichenbaum, 1994):

  1. Emotional responses include shock, terror, guilt, horror, irritability, anxiety, hostility, and depression.
  2. Cognitive responses are reflected in significant concentration impairment, confusion, self-blame, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic experience(s) (also referred to as flashbacks), lowered self-efficacy, fears of losing control, and fear of reoccurrence of the trauma.
  3. Biologically-based responses involve sleep disturbance (i.e., insomnia), nightmares, an exaggerated startle response, and psychosomatic symptoms.
  4. Behavioral responses include avoidance, social withdrawal, interpersonal stress (decreased intimacy and lowered trust in others), and substance abuse. The process through which the individual has coped prior to the trauma is arrested; consequently, a sense of helplessness is often maintained (Foy, 1992).

PTSD is a highly specialized area of counseling which I have been providing for over 10 years. While PTSD cannot be cured, effective counseling can provide the client with the skills to control the symptoms of PTSD; you can improve your quality of life!