Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances. An individual may experience this as emotionally or physically harmful or life-threatening and may affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being. Examples include natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war/combat, rape/sexual assault, historical trauma, intimate partner violence and bullying.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD in adolescents ages 13-18 is 8 percent. An estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic minorities — U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans/Alaska Natives — are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.