Any kind of severe trauma in which an individual is exposed to violence and experiences feelings of powerlessness can cause PTSD: natural disasters, accidents, sexual assault or abuse, terrorist acts, school shootings, witnessing or being the victim of any violent crime. Civilians repeatedly exposed to stress, like police officers EMT’s and emergency room doctors and nurses my also suffer from PTSD.

Children and adolescents often suffer from symptoms of PTSD as a result of physical abuse, sexual abuse or prolonged neglect.

Stress reactions are the body’s natural and correct response to extreme stressors. For some, feelings of anxiety may persist for a prolonged period, or suddenly appear long after the causal event. Victims may relive the experience, and react as if the threat is still present. Such long term reactions are common, and may include irritability, anxiety, depression, withdrawal, reliving the event and nightmares.

Sufferers are often are unaware of the triggers for PTSD reactions, which may include sounds, smells, anniversary dates or places that serve as reminders of the event.

The same stigma that is attached to PTSD in the military applies to civilian sufferers, and victims often avoid seeking treatment for fear of being judged weak or incapable by employers, spouses, family and friends. More common among women than among men in the civilian population, it is estimated that 7 to 8 percent of the population may be affected.