Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a reaction to a traumatic event, or a life-threatening or violent event, such as military combat, physical or sexual assault, or a serious accident. PTSD consists of symptoms including intrusive reexperiencing of the trauma, avoidance (i.e., not wanting to think or talk about the traumatic event), negative alterations in thought or mood, and hyperarousal symptoms (being vigilant for signs of threat). This entry describes the history of posttraumatic stress reactions and their recognition by the medical community, the classification of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the epidemiology of PTSD, psychosocial and biological risk factors for developing PTSD in the wake of a traumatic event, and conditions that commonly co-occur with PTSD.


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