Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

DISCLAIMER:This page is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional advice or diagnosis. If you feel that you may need medical advice, please consult a qualified health care professional.

National Center for PTSD AboutFace homepageWhat is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through, see, or learns of a traumatic event like exposure to combat, child sexual or physical abuse, terrorist attack, sexual/physical assault, serious accidents, or natural disasters. This is not an all-inclusive list of events and there may be many more.

PTSD occurs if reactions to stress-related events don’t go away over time and become disruptive to one’s daily life. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t.

The development of PTSD is dependent on many factors including the intensity and duration of the trauma, injuries to self or loss of important people, closeness to the event, strength of individual reaction, amount of control felt relating to the traumatic event, and how much help/support received after the event. Again, this is not all-inclusive and is but a condensed list of potential factors.

Facts About PTSD

  • The lifetime prevalence of PTSD among men was 3.6% among men and 9.7% among women according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) conducted between February 2001 and April 2003
  • Also according to the NCS-R, the twelve-month prevalence was 1.8% among men and 5.2% among women
  • Of Vietnam theater Veterans, 15.2% of males and 8.1% of females were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS) was conducted between November 1986 and February 1988; the estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among these Veterans was 30.9% for men and 26.9% for women
  • The estimated prevalence of PTSD among the total Gulf War Veteran population to be 10.1% according to a study in a population-based sample of 11,441 Gulf War Veterans from 1995 to 1997
  • In OEF/OIF (Afghanistan/Iraq) Veterans, the RAND Corporation, Center for Military Health Policy Research, published a population-based study indicating the prevalence of current PTSD at 13.8%

Reactions & Symptoms

  Common Reactions to Traumatic Events   Types of Symptoms
  • Fear or Anxiety: Feeling tense, afraid, agitated, jumpy, and or on alert
  • Sadness or Depression: Crying spells, loss of interest in enjoyable things, wanting to be alone all the time, and/or feeling tired, empty, and numb
  • Guilt and Shame: Feeling responsible for what happened and/or feeling guilty because others were injured or killed and you survived
  • Anger and Irritability: Lashing out at partner/spouse; less patience with children; and/or overreacting to small misunderstandings
  • Behavior Changes: Drinking, using drugs, or smoking too much; driving aggressively; neglect self-health, and/or avoiding certain people or situations
  • Reliving the event: Memories, nightmares, and/or flashbacks due to trigger (a sight/sound that causes on to relive the event)
  • Avoiding situations which may be reminders: Situations or people; talking or thinking about the event
  • Feeling numb: Hard to express feelings or remember/talk about the trauma
  • Feeling keyed up: Jittery, on the alert, or lookout for danger; hyperarousal (sudden anger or irritability); back to the wall, loud noises startle, bumping into someone creates anger

If You Think You Have or Do Have PTSD, You Are Not Alone

There are resources available to provide support to you or the person you know who is affected by PTSD.

About FaceAboutFace is a website dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, Veterans can learn about PTSD, explore treatment options and, most importantly, hear real stories from other Veterans and get advice from clinicians who have treated thousands of cases of PTSD.

There are currently two sections to the site: Veterans and Clinicians. Each section has a series of statements on the left and pictures of people on the right.  Click on a person to watch them talk about the highlighted subject. If what you hear works for you, you can choose to watch more of that person.  Or you can go back to watch others give their answers. In the Veteran Directory, you also can search by age, gender, branch of service and place of deployment.

AboutFace is produced by the VA’s National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the world’s leading center for PTSD research and education. The Center is committed to improving the well-being of American Veterans through the advancement of research, education and training in the science, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and stress related disorders.

Click here to be taken to the AboutFace site…


After Deployment – Adjusting To War Memories: Provides tools to deal with difficult deployment reminders that may occur in the daily lives of Service Members or Veterans. Offers an assessment, an electronic-library, game-based simulations and narrator-guided self-help workshops.

America’s Heroes At WorkA U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) project that addresses the employment challenges of returning Service Members and Veterans living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE): Access a DoD program that works to improve psychological health and TBI treatment of Service Members and Veterans

Forgotten Soldier ProjectThe Forgotten Soldier Program is dedicated to providing Integrative Health Care Services to Veterans who seek holistic healing to help overcome trauma and assist them in reintegrating back into civilian life.

Give An Hour: Provides free mental health services nationwide by mental health professionals who literally give an hour of their time each week to military personnel and their families.

Make The Connection: Connects Veterans, their friends and family members with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their health, well-being and everyday lives. Hear inspiring stories of strength, learn what has worked for other Veterans and explore information about physical and mental health symptoms, challenging life events and mental health conditions.

MSW@USC Military Mental Health Resource Guide to Depression, TBI & PTSD: Aims to raise awareness around symptoms, causes and treatments of the various mental health issues that military service members and their families may face. More information can be found at USC’s military social work sub-concentration.

National Center for PTSD: The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. We work to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma.

National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) PTSD Page: Access a resource from the National Institute of Mental Health that explains what PTSD is, when it starts, how long it lasts and how to get help.

Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain InjuryContact the 24-hour/7 days a week outreach center at 866-966-1020 to reach the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE).

PTSD Coach Online: Offers simple exercises, tools and strategies for coping with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Provided by the VA National Center for PTSD.

Real Warriors Campaign: Find articles and resources on a variety of psychological health issues, as well as video interviews with Service Members, their families and others dealing with mental health issues and traumatic brain injuries.

The Soldiers Project: Access free, confidential mental health counseling services for Veterans, Service Members and their families.

Train A Dog, Save A Warrior: Trains service dogs for wounded warriors or Veterans.

Vet Centers: Offers readjustment counseling and outreach services to Veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for family members on military-related issues.

Vets Prevail: Find information on battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression through this program for Veterans by Veterans. Interactive training is delivered online, providing a convenient and confidential approach to treating deployment-related effects of combat such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Vietnam Veterans of America’s (VVA) Guide to PTSD: Find information from the Vietnam Veterans of America on PTSD, including how to get help and tips on working with service providers.

Wounded Warrior Project – Restore Warriors: Provides a self-assessment to help identify problem areas and supply feedback and recommendations for self-help exercises. Also contains online training exercises and professional help locators.