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What Are the Different Types of PTSD?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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PTSD, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychological disorder that may occur after a traumatic experience. There are several different types of PTSD, classified by the degree and duration of trauma experienced as well as specific symptoms. The basic types of PTSD include acute stress disorder, uncomplicated PTSD, co-morbid PTSD, and complex PTSD. Symptoms may range from mild anxiety to bouts of aggression or complete social isolation. Treatment for the different types of PTSD may include the use of prescription medications, psychological therapy, or a combination of these treatment methods.

Acute stress disorder is considered to be the mildest of the various kinds of PTSD. This condition is usually related to a single traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or an act of violence. Symptoms of acute stress disorder may include anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty performing basic daily tasks.

Uncomplicated PTSD causes the patient to relive the experience relating to the trauma over and over again in the mind. The person who suffers from this disorder may also attempt to avoid any person, place, or situation associated with the trauma. This is one of the most difficult kinds of PTSD to diagnose because of its similarities to other mental disorders.

Co-morbid PTSD occurs when the post-traumatic stress is present in a person who also suffers from other mental health issues. Anxiety disorders, alcoholism, and depression are commonly seen among these patients. Instead of treating these problems individually, studies have indicated that the patient may obtain better results by having the conditions treated together.

Complex PTSD is often considered the most severe of all of the different kinds of PTSD and tends to occur among those who have suffered prolonged experiences of trauma. An abusive childhood, participating in a war, or spending several years in prison may be contributing factors to the development of this disorder. Depression, anger, and risky sexual behavior may indicate the presence of complex PTSD.

Treatment for the various types of PTSD is essentially the same, although adjustments may need to be made to fit the individual situation. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and may be the most appropriate choice when seeking help. Prescription medications are sometimes prescribed to help the patient cope with extreme levels of anxiety or depression. Psychological therapy is usually needed, often for an extended period of time, so that the patient learns better coping skills. In many cases, medications and therapy are used together to provide the best possible results for the patient.

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