Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after a traumatic incident or experience. It is probably most associated with soldiers returning home from war, but PTSD can affect anyone who has gone through a traumatizing experience, whether physically or emotionally.
When you experience stress, the body releases stress hormones, especially cortisol. This is part of our survival instinct and is a normal reaction to a perceived threat. In people without PTSD or other anxiety disorders, these stress hormones will return to their baseline levels once the stress has passed. In people suffering from PTSD, however, the levels of these hormones remains heightened.
What Are the Risks for PTSD?
PTSD affects a greater number of women than men. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with the disorder. A conclusive reason for this has not been proven, although genetics, family setting and emotional behavior appear to play a role.