Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Take the PTSD Quiz!

What is the prognosis for PTSD?

A number of factors are thought to improve the prognosis (outlook) for people with PTSD. They include personal attributes like above-average cognitive abilities, high self-esteem and optimism, interpersonal abilities like good social skills, problem solving, and impulse control, and external factors like secure attachment, sense of safety, and environmental stability.

Is it possible to prevent PTSD?

While disaster-preparedness training is generally seen as a good idea in terms of improving the immediate physical safety and logistical issues involved with a traumatic event, such training may also provide important preventive factors against developing PTSD. That is as evidenced by the fact that those with more professional-level training and experience (for example, police, firefighters, mental-health professionals, paramedics, and other medical professionals) tend to develop PTSD less often when coping with disaster than those without the benefit of such training or experience. People who have been traumatized but are not members of those professions have been found to be less likely to develop PTSD if they receive imaging exposure and therapeutic processing by trained professionals within a day of the trauma and weekly sessions for at least two weeks thereafter.

There are medications that have been found to help prevent the development of PTSD. Some medicines that treat depression, decrease the heart rate, or increase the action of other body chemicals are thought to be effective tools in the prevention of PTSD when given in the days immediately after an individual experiences a traumatic event.

How can people cope with PTSD?

Some ways that are often suggested for PTSD patients to cope with this illness include learning more about the disorder as well as talking to friends, family, professionals, and PTSD survivors for support. Joining a support group may be helpful. Other tips include reducing stress by using relaxation techniques (for example, breathing exercises, positive imagery), actively participating in treatment as recommended by professionals, increasing positive lifestyle practices (for example, exercise, healthy eating, distracting oneself through keeping a healthy work schedule if employed, volunteering whether employed or not), and minimizing negative lifestyle practices like substance abuse, social isolation, working to excess, and self-destructive or suicidal behaviors.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2015
PTSD Quiz: Test Your IQ of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Effective Treatments

    What kinds of treatments have been effective for your posttraumatic stress disorder?

    Post View 25 Comments
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with posttraumatic stress disorder?

    Post View 24 Comments
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Causes

    What was the cause of PTSD in you or someone you know?

    Post View 4 Comments
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Coping

    How do you cope with PTSD? What would you recommend to someone who is facing the challenges associated with PTSD?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Diagnosis and Assessment

    What types of tests or exams helped assess and later diagnose your PTSD?

    Post
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Getting Help

    What group or organization has helped you or a loved one cope with PTSD?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors