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What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

How to identify and get treatment for PTSD

what is ptsdPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can affect someone after a traumatic event. You are more likely to get PTSD if you:

  • Witnessed a traumatic event that was planned
  • Are a woman
  • Were directly exposed to trauma as a victim or witness
  • Were badly hurt during a traumatic event
  • Experienced long-lasting or severe trauma
  • Thought you or a family member were in danger and felt helpless to do anything about it
  • Had a strong response during the trauma such as crying, shaking or vomiting
  • Were in a combat role in war or experienced traumatic brain injury during deployment

You are also more likely to get PTSD if you have already gone through a traumatic event or have a mental illness.

PTSD symptoms

Symptoms of PTSD include

  • Re-experiencing trauma through flashbacks, bad dreams or frightening thoughts
  • Avoiding situations that bring back memories of an event
  • Feeling guilty, worrisome or numbness
  • Having difficulty remembering what happened during an event
  • Having symptoms of depression, such as sadness, trouble sleeping and a loss of interest in activities
  • Being anxious, tense, easily startled and angered

It’s normal to have some of these symptoms after a scary event, and most people do not develop PTSD. If symptoms last for more than a month, get worse or affect your life, talk to your doctor to see if you should be screened for PTSD. If you don’t have a doctor, you can find one by using our Find Care tool or on our Blue Cross of Idaho member app by selecting Find Care. Make sure you are logged in to your Blue Cross of Idaho member account so you see providers in your network.

PTSD treatment

Treatment for PTSD usually includes both psychotherapy and medication. “Talk therapy” is usually a starting point for PTSD treatment and includes specific approaches called “trauma-focused psychotherapy.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to treat PTSD and may include:

  • Exposure therapy: This therapy can help people with PTSD face and control their fear. During treatment, people are slowly exposed to the trauma safely by using mental imagery and writing or by visiting the place where the trauma occurred. Another therapy used is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR).
  • Cognitive restructuring: This therapy can help people with PTSD better understand their trauma so they can manage it in a healthy way.

CBT can also teach people coping skills to help them manage their PTSD and deal with stress, anxiety and other stressors that may come from trauma.

Antidepressants and other medications may be used to help treat PTSD, especially when other conditions are present. Talk to your doctor about which drugs may be right for you. When taking drugs, make sure to let your doctor know if your symptoms don’t improve or if they worsen. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking drugs. Stopping suddenly may worsen your symptoms.

Get help

If you or a loved one has PTSD symptoms, seek help as soon as possible. If left untreated, PTSD can have serious long-term effects on your physical and mental health.

Get mental health resources with Sharecare

Find ways to help manage your mental health with Sharecare. You’ll find lifestyle tips, guided meditations and more to help you find calm.

Blue Cross of Idaho members have access to Sharecare, an app to help you live healthier by getting personalized tips for exercise, healthy eating and more. To get the app, visit to create your Sharecare account, download the app and take the RealAge® Test. Do not download the Sharecare app directly from the App Store or Google Play.


Disclaimer: This wellness program is administered by Sharecare, Inc., an independent company that provides health improvement management services to Blue Cross of Idaho members. Sharecare, Inc., does not provide Blue Cross of Idaho products or services and is solely responsible for the health improvement management services it provides.

Source: Sharecare, Inc.

Posted: June 8, 2022