Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD frequently appears after exposure to a variety of trauma, such as combat, criminal victimization, sexual assault, natural disaster and motor vehicle accidents. These types of trauma are either personally experienced, witnessed or happened to someone close.

Symptoms associated with PTSD include recurrent nightmares related to the trauma, "flashbacks" or feeling as if the trauma were occurring all over again, being constantly "on guard", having sudden outbursts of anger, and feeling emotionally numb.

Community-based studies suggest that PTSD affects between 3-7% of the population. Studies of at-risk individuals (e.g., combat veterans or victims of criminal violence such as rape or domestic violence) have an even higher prevalence rate, ranging from 10-40%. People diagnosed with PTSD may have trouble with interpersonal relationships, job performance and other activities.

Do you have it?

  1. Have you been jumpy or easily startled?
  2. Have you been physically upset by reminders of the event? (This includes sweating, trembling, racing heart, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea).
  3. Have you been unable to have sad or loving feelings, or have you generally felt numb?
  4. Have you been irritable or had outbursts or anger?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you may have PTSD.

Is there help?

There are various medications and psychotherapy approaches that can be helpful for individuals with PTSD.

Currently, through UCSD and the VA San Diego Health Care System we are conducting a research study that includes psychotherapy that is specifically designed to reduce symptoms of PTSD related to domestic violence. This intervention aims to help women understand and manage their symptoms, cope with stress, deal with unwanted contact with former partners, identify potential perpetrators and avoid re-victimization. Women who participate in therapy also undergo functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scans to investigate the impact of domestic violence on thinking and emotions.

For more detailed info about the study, please call 1-877-UCSD-SHY (1-877-827-3749).

Informational Resources

Trauma Information Pages

International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS)

American Psychological Association's Trauma Division

Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma

The Leadership Council

The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder