What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. Some examples of traumatic events are combat, natural disasters, physical or sexual assaults, car accidents and any other traumatic experience where an individual experienced or witnessed an event that involved death or the threat of physical harm.

The disorder is characterized by four main types of symptoms:

Intrusion or re-experiencing:

Recurrent recollections of the event

-Dreams, intrusive memories, flashbacks, and discernable prolonged distress and physical reactions to cues that resemble the traumatic event


Fear and avoidance behavior

-Avoidance of people, places, thoughts, feelings, or activities closely associated with the traumatic event

Changes in Mood and Cognition:

Negative alterations in emotions or thoughts

-Exaggerated negative beliefs and self-blame for the traumatic event, detachment from others, loss of interest, persistent negative emotional state, reduced ability to feel positive emotions

Arousal and Hyper-reactivity:

Agitation, state of constant wakefulness and alertness

-Hypervigilance, being easily startled, acting irritable or aggressive, recklessness, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating.

Symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later.


You cannot do away with PTSD by avoiding it, but processing the incident in PTSD treatment can help you integrate it into your mind in a healthier way. PTSD therapy can help break the cycle of avoidance by changing how your mind and body relate to the traumatic event.

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic orientation that has been shown to be effective for anxiety and related disorders like PTSD. CBT is based on the core principle that thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are interconnected such that changes in one domain affects changes in the other two domains. For example, if we change how we behave in response to a stressor, we can change how we think about it as well as how we feel about it.

Resources for more information:

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 
An organization with the National Institute of health dedicated to mental health research:

National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) 

A center established by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to improve the well-being of U.S. veterans through PTSD research and education:


PE Certification Information

PE Certification Program | Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety | Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (upenn.edu