What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological reaction that occurs after an extremely stressful event, such as physical violence or military combat. Those suffering from PTSD have recurring memories of the stressful event and are anxious or scared even in the absence of danger. Flashbacks and nightmares are common symptoms as well. 

Recent Posts on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In

Both psychiatrists and psychologists devote their careers to helping people with mental health issues. As promising as neuroscience may be for helping researchers find clues to the brain, the real key to treatment lies in therapy, not drugs. Your best bet is to explore all options when you or your loved ones seek help.

Can Using Xanax When Flying Cause PTSD?

“We barely made it. After we landed, they closed the airport. Thank God I had my Xanax to get me through it.” Though life-threatening events happen rarely in aviation, they happen routinely in the Xanax-fueled mind of an anxious flier. Threats to one's life, whether real or imagination-based, can lead to PTSD.

The Benefits of a Trauma-Sensitive Approach to Healing Shame

I have created a compassion cure program for former victims of trauma that includes: self-understanding, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-kindness, and self-encouragement. This article focuses on the first of these five components of self-compassion.

Can Abuse Be Invisible?

By Craig Malkin PhD on July 12, 2015 in Romance Redux
All abuse has a legacy. If we want to end emotional abuse, we can start by educating people about what it is and how it works.

How the Brain Changes in Response to PTSD

If you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, seek help. There are quality treatments available that will help you to live a fuller, more meaningful life.

Prescription Drugs Helped Re-boot My System

By Eric Newhouse on July 10, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
From personal experience, I'm learning that prescription drugs can be useful in the short term to allow the body to re-boot itself. And I suspect the same may be true for those suffering from PTSD.

Cortisol and Oxytocin Hardwire Fear-Based Memories

New research shows that the "stress hormone" cortisol and the "love hormone" oxytocin can create a double whammy when it comes to hardwiring anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress?

Changing the name of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to post traumatic stress (by dropping the word "disorder") is a movement by government and military to destigmatize this condition. However, this idea misses the point. PTSD is not a normal reaction to trauma which post-traumatic stress implies, but an actual disorder with serious symptoms and disability.

Trauma and the Freeze Response: Good, Bad, or Both?

Almost everyone is familiar with the fight-flight response—your reaction to a stimulus perceived as an imminent threat to your survival. However, less well-known is the fight-flight-freeze response, which adds a crucial dimension to how you’re likely to react when the situation confronting you overwhelms your coping capacities and leaves you paralyzed in fear.

Bill Cosby: Patriarch to Predator

Separating reality from TV fiction

Pet Sematary, Cujo, and Disaster Psychology

Psychological lessons from a chilling incident during our Maine vacation.

Understanding and Working with Flashbacks, Part Two

Focusing on the clinical strategy of actually using a flashback experience to therapeutically “re-story” a traumatic event in an effort to help clients resolve it and deepen their healing.

Developments in the Treatment of PTSD Nightmares, Part 2

Two weeks ago, I posted part 1 of my interview with Dr. Murray Raskind about his pioneering work in the field of PTSD and the treatment of nightmares. Here is the second half of our interview.

Exploring Post Traumatic Growth

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about post-traumatic stress, or PTSD, and the negative effects it can have on a person’s overall health and wellness. PTSD is triggered in response to either experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, particularly if that event is life threatening

Fixing the Neural Circuit to Combat Mental Illness

By Julie K Hersh on June 29, 2015 in Struck By Living
A trip to Stanford gives a look into the work of Dr. Amit Etkin and Stanford's NeuroCircuit Group.

Taboo of Male Rape Keeps Victims Silent

The stigmatization of male rape victims is harsh, such that survivors may not identify as victims, or realize that they have experienced a sexual assault.

Understanding and Working With Flashbacks, Part One

Since June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness month, it seems relevant to focus on the common but debilitating symptom of flashbacks that so often accompanies a PTSD diagnosis.

Developments in the Treatment of PTSD Nightmares, Part 1

"What Dreams May Come: Treating the Nightmares of PTSD" was a blog post I published in November 2013. It remains a very popular post, which continues to receive many views and comments. In light of this, on 5/22/2015 I interviewed Dr. Murray Raskind about his pioneering work in the field of PTSD and the treatment of nightmares.

Love for a Killer: "A Very Evil Kid”

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on June 22, 2015 in Moral Landscapes
When Adam Lanza massacred school children, people asked about his genes. But that was the wrong question. Genes are inert without experience. Families of victims of Dylann Roof’s gun rampage forgave him. It’s a show of love that he probably needed much earlier in his life.

Which of Us Has Looked Into His Father's Heart?

By Pythia Peay on June 19, 2015 in America On The Couch
A man of his time, Joe Carroll had been shaped by previous eras as much as his era had shaped my own. Like one of those Chinese nesting boxes, his psyche had been formed by the psyches of each of his own parents, who had in turn been shaped by events of their time—and so on back through generations.

Military Sexual Trauma

Military Sexual Trauma is a serious problem among our female soldiers and veterans. In this blog, Arthur Segaloff, a Vietnam War Veteran who has worked for the USO for many years, provides his perspective on the plight of women in the armed forces.

Do You Have a Family Snapshot and Memory of the Twin Towers?

Do you have a snapshot and memory of the original World Trade Center or Twin Towers prior to September 11, 2001? "My WTC" is creating a blog archive of personal photographs of the former World Trade Center in an effort to preserve the meaning and significance of the WTC from the intimate vantage point of New Yorkers, visitors, and tourists from all over the world.

Female Veterans Killing Themselves in Unprecedented Numbers

It is a blemish on this nation to do so little to help our military veterans. They volunteered to be placed in harm’s way for our safety and welfare. It’s our turn to ensure that they receive the benefits which they earned through their service.

After War

By Nancy Sherman Ph.D. on June 09, 2015 in Afterwar
The concept of "moral injuries" associated with combat experience is an affliction of growing interest to both military and healthcare communities.

Resolving Guilt in Therapy

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on June 05, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Martin Hsia describes his compassionate CBT intervention for resolving guilt in this Moments of Meaning video.

Tranquility Gone Missing From Your Tranquilizer?

By Hal Mathew on June 01, 2015 in Unagoraphobic
Ah the irony... you're taking a tranquilizer to relieve anxiety that eventually creates anxiety.

A Child is Being Beaten—Ever or Never?

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) made famous the stark phrase “the banality of evil.” This complex idea connotes colossal destructiveness done by men of less than colossal character. The everyday pervasiveness of senseless cruelty---humankind’s inhumanity toward itself---makes it clear that the inclination of destructiveness is real. Effective parenting is primary prevention.

Apps – The Evolution of Therapy

Apps such as Candy Crush provide entertainment and “kill” time when waiting on line, traveling, or taking a few minutes to unwind. But now, people have the option to use this time to establish calm and improve their sense of well-being with other, more nutritious apps – apps that can improve their lives; apps like AETAS.

"Surf Therapy" and Being in the Ocean Can Alleviate PTSD

Recently I spoke with filmmaker Josh Izenberg about his new documentary "Resurface." The short film is about military veterans who learn to surf as a way to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and transform their lives.

Your Life After Trauma

By Patty Chang Anker on May 26, 2015 in Some Nerve
For trauma survivors the thought of living a big, brave life may seem far fetched. A new book provides an essential blueprint for going forward with confidence.