December 10th 2007
Posttraumatic stress disorder is the fourth most common psychiatric condition, affecting about 1 in 10 people at some point during their lifetime. The principal cause is exposure to an extremely traumatic event. The individual's unique biologic or psychosocial character and previous exposure, along with the personal significance of the trauma, shape the intensity of the response. Early recognition of trauma symptoms and signs and prompt intervention are important in the prevention of acute stress disorder and the subsequent development of posttraumatic stress disorder. Obtaining a trauma history during a routine medical examination can lead to the diagnosis and help initiate treatment. In addition to being distressing, symptoms also diminish quality of life, impair psychosocial adjustment, and worsen overall health.