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Trauma awareness

7 facts about PTSD

Traumatic events such as military combat can trigger PTSD, although a wide range of people are affected by the condition.

To mark the recent release of the Healing PTSD semipostal stamp, here are seven facts about post-traumatic stress disorder.

1. A wide range of people are affected by PTSD. People with PTSD may relive past events, have trouble sleeping, be dehydrated, feel nauseated and be startled easily. They can also experience uncontrollable shaking, chills, heart palpitations and headaches.

2. A variety of traumatic events can trigger PTSD. These events include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, combat and other violence.

3. Seven or 8 of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to experience PTSD — 10 out of every 100 women compared with 4 out of 100 men.

4. About half of people with PTSD may recover in three months without treatment. However, there is the possibility that symptoms will not go away on their own and may last longer than three months.

5. Children may be diagnosed with PTSD if long-term symptoms last more than one month. Parents of children with PTSD should encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment.

6. People with severe forms of PTSD may experience challenges at work, at home and in social settings. The nervous system of someone with PTSD is especially vulnerable, which may lead to behavior or feelings such as being overly alert, angry, irritable, depressed or untrusting.

7. Previous traumatic exposure, age and gender can affect whether a person develops PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely. This can come in the form of participating in hobbies, doing rhythmic exercises or dancing or going on lunch dates.

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