Lifestyle

Signs, treatments for PTSD | Dr. Petter

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is estimated to affect 7-8 percent of the general population in the United States. This percentage increases to 11-20 percent for those individuals returning from war.

Not everyone exposed to an intense trauma or witness to a horrific tragedy, like the one that recently occurred in Connecticut, will develop this mental condition. PTSD is believed to be triggered by a complex blend of a person's underlying personality, life experiences, hereditary factors, and how the brain's chemicals and hormones respond to stress.

There is an array of symptoms associated with PTSD. Typically, symptoms develop within the first few months, but they can present for the first time years after the initial exposure.

Examples of symptoms:

• Uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts about the event, flash-backs

• Nightmares, difficulty sleeping

• Poor concentration and/or focus

• Feeling helpless and/or hopeless

• Outburst of anger or irritability

• Engaging in self-destructive behavior

• Seeing or hearing things that are not there

If you or someone you know may be suffering from PTSD, make an appointment to see your doctor. Diagnosis of this condition is made based upon signs and symptoms, as well as a psychological evaluation.

Treatment can help control this condition, which typically consists of: medication, psychotherapy, and developing coping strategies coupled with a strong support system.

Dr. Linda Petter of Auburn is a weekly feature on KOMO TV/News Radio (1000 AM and 97.7 FM) every Saturday and Sunday 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. She trained at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois, Carle Hospital. Petter is chief of the Department of Family Practice at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. She is a consumer healthcare advocate, and her books, "Healthcare on a Budget" and "Common Medical Sense", are available on Amazon.com. Visit her website, www.DocForAll.com, or call her office at 253-568-0841.

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