Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 16, 2020

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness with serious symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, and damaged relationships. Many situations can trigger PTSD, but what sufferers have in common is that they’ve survived a disturbing or life-threatening experience. People with PTSD can more easily recover if they receive medical treatment. In any year, more than five million Americans have PTSD.

What conditions can arise from PTSD?

PTSD symptoms include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, flashbacks (experiencing the event again without wanting to), nightmares and other problems sleeping, avoiding people, places, or things that remind you of the event, difficulty trusting in other people, self-blame, sudden anger, jumpy reactions to loud noises or other surprises, and guilt toward people who survived the event. The wide range of symptoms makes it especially important to get a correct diagnosis from a doctor.

While many people experience trauma immediately after an event, other people do not. It may take months or years for PTSD symptoms to show up, and sometimes the reactions are subtle. Watch how you react to triggers. Triggers can be anything that reminds you of the trauma, including places, noises, certain smells, certain activities, and even the date on the calendar. Once you’ve figured out the triggers, your reactions become more predictable and more easily treated.

What are the common causes of PTSD?

The classic picture of a PTSD patient is a Vietnam veteran who suffers from flashbacks and nightmares about the wartime trauma. But PTSD is not restricted to war or to men. It can stem from a wide variety of terrifying experiences, including rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, natural disasters such as a tornado or hurricanes, floods, man-made disasters such as 9/11, street crime, plane crashes, and auto accidents or workplace allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination. The event commonly triggers feelings of helplessness, horror, or intense fear in the victim. If someone else is responsible for the traumatic event, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. You can visit the Free Advice Pain and Suffering FAQs for information about compensation for mental injury awards. A personal injury attorney can give advice for your specific case.

If you’d like to have a free case assessment by an experienced lawyer, you can fill out the case evaluation form provided by Free Advice.