Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop following a terrifying event, such as a natural disaster or a rape. The condition can be debilitating, causing people to constantly relive the ordeal and/or feel emotionally numb. It tends to develop within three months after the event, but may not show up for years. People with post-traumatic stress disorder can be helped by medications and carefully targeted psychotherapy.
"I was raped when I was 25 years old. For a long time, I spoke about the rape as though it was something that happened to someone else. I was very aware that it had happened to me, but there was just no feeling.
"Then I started having flashbacks. They kind of came over me like a splash of water. I would be terrified. Suddenly I was reliving the rape. Every instant was startling. I wasn't aware of anything around me. I was in a bubble, just kind of floating. And it was scary. Having a flashback can wring you out.
"The rape happened the week before Thanksgiving, and I can't believe the anxiety and fear I feel every year around the anniversary date. It's as though I've seen a werewolf. I can't relax, can't sleep, don't want to be with anyone. I wonder whether I'll ever be free of this terrible problem."
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that can develop following a terrifying event. Often, people with the disorder have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to.