Ever heard of fight or flight?  When a person is in danger, he will have one of two reactions - a person will choose to fight or flee.  Fight or flight is meant to protect a person from harm and sometimes this process can be changed or damaged. People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are no longer in danger. This happens after a person has experienced a terrifying ordeal. Some people may be under the common perception that PTSD is only a disorder that war veterans may experience.As much as war veterans may suffer from PTSD, anyone that experiences a horrific event in their lives may suffer as well.


PTSD is caused by experiencing a traumatic event or watching a loved one experience a traumatic event. For example, events such as; a mugging, rape, torture, child abuse, death, kidnapping , natural disaster, bombing or car accidents. Many scientists are conducting research to see how genes play a role in PTSD and also what part of the brain is triggered after a traumatic event.

Signs & Symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

Avoiding symptoms

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event

Hyperarousal Systems

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts

Children may react differently to PTSD than adults. There are signs that parents can watch for in their children if they are considering getting help in this area.

  • Bedwetting, after they are potty trained
  • Forgetting how or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Who is at Risk?

PTSD can occur at any age. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed.

Risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Having a history of mental illness
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing people hurt or killed
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home


The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. Most people cope with this much better if they have solid support from family and friends. Every person struggling with PTSD is different and may need different or more intense treatment due to their specific case.

If you or someone you love may be suffering from PTSD call Horizon today at (434) 477-5000.