What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? [Infographic]

Research indicates early intervention after a traumatic event can reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s why the more we know about PTSD, the more effective we can be as social workers to help people overcome and cope with this mental health condition.

Today, June 27, is PTSD Awareness Day, which was established last year by the Senate to raise public awareness about PTSD.  Awareness first starts with understanding what something is, where it comes from and how it can be treated.

This “What is PTSD?” infographic outlines the symptoms, causes and treatments for the various types of traumatic events, and we hope this serves as a good starting point to spread awareness.

PTSD Awareness via Master of Social Work at USC

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  • Lisa Castillo Fernandez

    Hey friends in the Social services field this is god reading.

    • Anonymous

       Hi Lisa — Thanks!

  • Dr. Lynn K. Jones

    Thanks for sharing this with us.  Packed with information and so clear!

  • mystery author

    I associate PTSD with combat vets and was surprised to learn that twice as many women as men suffer from it.

    • Anonymous

      I think many now associate PTSD with military only, and it can be surprising that PTSD comes from a number of areas.   I’m glad there’s an awareness day like this one that enables information like this to surface!

  • Eric

    I’m a combat vet in recovery and diagnosed with ptsd, I share with a
    great passion the shedding of light on this very complex topic. I must
    also say that the infographic is the best thing since kneaded MRE peanut
    butter and jelly.

    Keep up the great work here folks, we need you.

    Semper Fidelis.

    • Anonymous

       Thank you for everything YOU do Eric!   We hope your road to recovery is a swift one.  :) 

  • Tbchambers

    I was diagnosed with PTSD after I watched my home burn down, and I have always felt bad about the diagnoses I did not go through anything as bad as our soldiers have.  I though it was better till about 6 months ago and the panic attacks have come back and I live in FL now where there is no free mental health services, so I guess I just need to figure out a way to deal with it.

    • JPedde

      Are there any counseling centers close by?  or maybe in a town over?   

    • Eric Hughes

      That’s heartbreaking; and your own trauma shouldn’t be judged, gauged,
      or minimized by what we as Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and those
      of the Coast Guard (active duty or veteran) have experienced in the
      defense of our country. I’m certainly not going to do that. All my respect and best wishes to you.

    • Elizabeth

      your  not alone

    • Tbchambers

      Thank you all for your responses….I have not looked at this site for quite some time and did not realize anyone even posted to my post….I still suffer and try to use what I have learned in the past…I have also recently moved and hope to find a group of counselor here…I hate the way PTSD makes me feel….I was in my late 40’s when it happened and I know how I was before….I wish I could feel like that again…tbchamber

  • ghostrider189er

    you people with “Titles” think you know something about PTSD ??? how about being a Vietnam Veteran with a rateing of 100% percent PTSD and was tramatized in a dental chair over a bet by a Dr. and his little gang of “Titles”
    at the USC/VA hospital over a bet by the “Dr” to keep his son (drug problems)in school and i was the “Victim” of professional Stupidity and “Gutted” of all my teeth( a drug induced stupor 12-14hrs a day in dental chair) as a lab rat and it was justified due to my disability of PTSD. A blame the patient sydrome and i have lost all respect for “Titles such as Dr.Jones or a MFC/MSW ??? just a first name would be fine as i find you all silly and i sure wish i could go to a Dr. as i have not seen one in 11yrs and i am a single parent who raised a daughter and put her thru school without useing someone for “Greed/Money reasons? i just hope that all the “Titles” got at least a blow job from an intern as i didn`t even get a kiss and i again was the “Victim” of professional Stupid i.e. titles.  needless to say you destroyed my smile and what little  life i was able to put together and am know  living in a constant hell due to trust in a Doctor ???                                                                                              ghostrider 189er

    • Eric Hughes

      Ghostrider I’m 100% disabled for combat ptsd myself through the VA . With all do respect, without this kind of awareness, nothing changes and that’s what we want – “change”. You can never have enough ammo run up the hill to you.

      Thank you for your service; you represent the very shoulders of those giants, that we, the younger generations, walk on.

    • Thomas Mahany

      ghostrider.My name is Tom I am a Vietnam Vet and the founder of Honor for ALL, a grass roots orgasnization of vets working for vets to end the stigma of invisible wounds and stop the needless loss of veterans to suicide. If you want to see a doctor you can do so for free by contacting Give An Hour, another non-profit organized to help vets or just call  240-328-6036
      Their providers can help in the following areas: 
      Individual Services Marital Services Family Services Group CounselingChild and Adolescent Services Parent Guidance Post-Traumatic Stress Alcohol/Chemical Dependency Pastoral Counseling Grief and Loss Traumatic Brain Injury Anger Management Anxiety Separation/Divorce Sexual Abuse 

  • Proudcapmarine

    I have PTSD from a year living24/7 in a Vietnamese peasant-farming village.  You can read some of my experiences at:    

  • Lweaver0305

    I was diagnosed with PTSD after watching my fiancee commit suicide 12/19/2007. I thought for a long time that I didn’t fit some of the criteria and that maybe I was misdiagnosed. Perhaps I was in denial. The more I live with it day to day the more real it is for me. I suffer now with alot of hypervigilance and I scare very easily. I still have flashbacks and nightmares. I have been in counseling for over a year now and my therapist is a wonderful lady and that is so important. You must have somebody that at the very least can do a good job pretending to care because if not I don’t believe that the counseling can work. My hope is that one day I can work through this and return to some form of normality. I just want to feel safe again.

    • Anonymous

       Hi Lweaver — thank you so much for sharing your story here.   It makes me happy to hear that you have a counselor that is helping you.  It’s so true that they can really make all the difference.  It is my hope that with the help of those around you, that you work through this and have a swift recovery. 

  • Hartz_gregory

    As a disabled Veteran (PTSD), I’m exploring my options for my MSW next year. Having maintained a 3.78 GPA @ The Northern Arizona University’s BSW program. The major issue all providers (Private and VA) will need to face is TRUST! 

    • Anonymous

      Hi Gregory — that’s great that you’re thinking about getting an MSW.  Are you thinking about USC?    And thank you for sharing your story above as well.   I’m glad that you were at least able to have a positive experience at your local ER. 

    • Steve Kimball

      Greg could you send me an email please. Thanks!

  • Gregory Hartz

    This is an example of the service I received last Thursday>>>As, a followup to my prior comment>>>  @font-face {
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    And…To make matters worse
    for me…I was having a full blown panic attack from PTSD last Thursday
    afternoon..I had my wife drive me over to our local VA Hospital (Prescott,AZ)
    for help! While waiting for what seemed to be hours for me, I stepped outside
    for a cigarette to help calm me, as the waiting room was a rather chaotic
    environment… While returning to the ER, I was stopped by a VA Police Officer
    for putting the cigarette out on the ground. I advised him of my ongoing stress
    issues and walked away from him, as he had his hand placed on his side arm.
    Again and again he followed me around the hospital attempting to speak with or
    provoke me, as he seemed to always have his hand placed on his pistol…After I
    repeatedly requested for him to drop the issue or issue a citation for
    littering, he finally returned to his VA cruiser and sped off in a rush! Is
    this anyway to treat a Disabled Veteran in his time of crisis? I am now fearful
    to obtain help from our local VA. Saturday I had another panic attack and had
    to use the Yavapai Regional Medical Center (at our expense) and this was for
    the obvious reason, that I no longer felt safe at the local VA. I had a
    positive experience at the local ER was treated with understanding and
    compassion. This was an abusive event and I would like any information this
    site has to offer in resolving this matter before one of my fellow Arizona
    Veterans is killed at the hands of the Police while seeking care

  • Aycc Owner
    This site offers students in College the opportunity to post questions that they are struggling with and get homework help fast! It also offers students to earn money while uploading tutorials and answering questions. The site pays out a hefty 75% for all tutorials sold compared to other sites. is on the rise with helping College students get the grades they deserve. It is free to join and takes about a minute to register.

  • Aycc Owner
    This site offers students in College the opportunity to post questions that they are struggling with and get homework help fast! It also offers students to earn money while uploading tutorials and answering questions. The site pays out a hefty 75% for all tutorials sold compared to other sites. is on the rise with helping College students get the grades they deserve. It is free to join and takes about a minute to register.

  • Sheer Zed

    Thank you for posting this helpful and well designed infographic, which I will re-blog with a credited link to further understanding of this crippling and life changing condition. Raising awareness is absolutely critical in fostering a supportive and caring atmosphere towards sufferers, enlighten carers and give those that wish to implement violence as a solution to human problems a second, third and fourth thought before following through. Being severely physically assaulted by a schizophrenic parent aged three to near death certainly gives a human being a very different and somewhat miasmic view on existence. I sincerely hope that this subject is discussed, shared, supported and research funded.  

    • Anonymous

       Thank you so much for sharing your story, as well as continuing to spread this important information!  It’s always great to hear that out of a negative situation comes a positive outlook. 

  • Belisemobaby

    My husband has ptsd from working the events of September 11th. I am trying to find him someone that can adequately help him in dealing with this event effectively as well as a support group,  Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous

      Where are you located?   I can look into some resources for you… 

      • Belisemobaby

        west palm beach, Florida location

        • Anonymous

          We have identified this agency in West Palm Beach that is a National Council member organization the provides a number of services.  Please reach out to them, and they will be able to provide you with the resources you will need:  Let us know if there’s anything else you need.

    • Mbrya023

      I also have PTSD from working with the Red Cross at Ground Zero after 9/11.  Your hubby can email me if he would like,

  • Belisemobaby

    My husband has ptsd from working the events of September 11th. I am trying to find him someone that can adequately help him in dealing with this event effectively as well as a support group,  Any suggestions?

  • martha

    Craniosacral therapy has been found to help with PTSD and should be available to our Vets

  • Elizabeth McBain

    i   think  i  suffer  from  his  ptsd  but  not  real  sure  how  can  i  find  out  cause  there’s a  reason i’m  angry  all the time , with  certain  people i care about ,  but  yet  i  cannot  sem to control  my  anger  and  mouth ,  i  need  help   i  am  sure  of  it

    • Anonymous

      Hi Elizabeth,  If you think this is something you may be facing, I would strongly encourage asking your doctor, or seek out local resources to help you through this tough time.   

  • nightowl

    I was diagnosed after almost 30 years of working in a mental facility, injured twice before ptsd was considdered.  Yes, a mental facility, but that was in 1999 & not much was out there for civilians.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing, nightowl.  I’m glad you’re at least now able to understand what you’ve been going through with the recent advancements in PTSD.

  • Wendy

    Thanks for the infographic.  I think it’s great that the word is getting out that PTSD affects many of us for different reasons. I had surgery at 3 weeks old and anesthesia was not used. Instead, I was likely given a muscle paralyzer. It was only in the 1980s that using anesthetic for invasive medical procedures on infants became routine. Before this, it was thought that the anesthesia might kill the baby. Also, the medical profession professed that babies did not feel pain and would not remember invasive procedures. I share on my blog the many ways that I’ve learned to cope with PTSD.  Counseling helped enormously, but it did not cure me entirely. On the blog, I share my writing and artwork, hoping to connect with others experiencing PTSD.  Let’s help each other.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing your story, and your blog, Wendy.   I’m sure it will help many with PTSD and who have gone through what you’ve gone through.  

  • Clwalker

    as a up and coming MSW taking the Military Sub-Concentration based on the high need, my respect for our warriors, my friend of 30 yeras who is 90% disabled with PTSD and TBI, this is a wonderful resource to have found. Very real life. Thank you to all of you who suffer and continue to deal with your lives as best as you can for sharing with us. Peace be with you. 

  • Steve Kimball

    I suffer from PTSD and have the “disability of 100%”. Its from Combat and years investigating crimes. My best guess at this point is that it really doesn’t matter how you got it, what matters is getting help and learning to cope and live with it, the best you can.  If you feel you could living better with it then get counseling from someone who specializes in PTSD.  It has helped me.  PTSD is a Prison or a Hurricane existence that alters your life and that of those around you.  Anyone who plans to work in the field with PTSD ought to be doing it for the right reason because it requires a lot of passion to do it successfully from what I have seen.  As you read below most Vets will let you have it if they think your heart isn’t in it.  It is a little hard hearing about people going into it because of the growing need and market–I think those people are in for it.  Best wishes to all.

  • online acls course

    As a fewllow PTSD sufferer, I commend you.

  • IRUN4U

    I now see what the veterans deal with when it comes to PTSD. In a six year period I went through a divorce, watched my boyfriend die right before my eye’s on his birthday and lost my home and everying in it from a fire. I have pushed every man that try’s to get close to me away. The last one I was mean and said hurftul things to him. I wanted him to hate me so he would never come back. I try to trust and open up but my fear of losing them makes me shut them out. I don’t want to care for them, how sad is that. I tought this was temporary after the fire but now three yaers latter I see I still suffer from it.    

  • smithie_h

    i have had PTSD since 2005. i am 17 years old. No one can imagine how hard life is being 11 years old, no father, depression, and anxiety attacks. i go to therepy now (i am starting next week)
    i am also doing a project on ptsd and need to interview 1 person who specializes in ptsd and 1 regular person with ptsd.
    if interested, please email me at: (no caps)

  • David Pirie

    How do I get a hard copy?

  • Lost&confused

    I thought my condition was only short trem but I see I’m still affected by PTSD. In a six year period I went thourgh a divorce of a 20yr marriage, my boyfriend of three yrs passed away on his birthday, lost my home an all it’s contents from a fire. I never took meds of any kind. I want to have a man in my life but when they get close I push them away. I want to stop doing that but just not sure how. 

  • Michelle Fitton

    is this poster available?

  • Beverly Woodard

    Thank you USC  School of Social Work for all of the facts presented regarding our soldiers past and present.  The facts and figures regarding those who are most likely to suffer PTSD.  Trauma is painful for all who suffer and your information helps spread some education, which creates more opportunities .. 

  • Michael Orbent, RN

    I dealt with PTSD after getting out of nursing school and dealing with some personal battles. Thank you for sharing this and I hope those who have battled and suffered continue to do the best they can. I’m doing much better now thankfully and working full time as a nurse instructor at . Still have my battles daily but it is much better than what it was after nursing school.

  • just me

    I have had PTSD for over 10 years…… my two youngest sons died. I could never begin to tell you how very hard that has been. Can you please share what are the best ways to treat PTSD

  • Ruth Bosley

    The VA in the Gulf Coast does not recognize this disorder, my hubby can’t get approved for any help and I’m over being abused because of his behavior. He’s furious with me right now and I can’t do anything right, this comes in waves and I’m tired of the ride.

  • amitgos

    Great info-graphic! but i am afraid there is no specific medicine. anyway there is no cure for mental stress. it need very care.

  • Transitioning Veteran

    You all at USC are doing great work to learn more about this disease and to learn more about helping those who suffer. Though I do not suffer from PTSD, as a Veteran I can speak for them all by saying Thank You for the Support and for all you students studying, never stop working hard, its you all that will make a difference in helping others. Awesome graph, I will be sharing it for all in the military community. -Steve (Veteran, Founder of

  • Lynn Williams

    What a wonderful poster. I myself have PTSD, I am a woman with sexual abuse in my background as well as physical abuse as a child. Many people do not understand that PTSD is something that people who are not Veterans of War also get. But we are out there. Of course Veterans are the majority and they need specialized help, but I am grateful for your noting that so do others. I have been diagnosed for 20 years, I am one of those lucky people who found a wonderful psychologist and psychiatrist who recognized the symptoms and was treated early, but I still suffer from flashback occasionally, I don’t know that it ever really goes away, but you can live a mostly normal (if there is such a thing) life and be successful. I have just finished my Bachelors in Psychology and am going on in a year to get my MSW (yes at USC :) ) I waited to go back to school until my children were grown, because I didn’t want to split my focus, as a survivor I found I needed to be careful with how much stress I took on in my life and manage it carefully. Good Luck to all of those who have this disease and thanks for bringing it to the fore in the Public Eye. Lynn in Florida.

    • Cynthia Wakefield

      Thank you Lynn for sharing your story. I also have a similar history and after 57 years, I too still have occasional flashbacks or other symptoms. I have found that learning coping skills, having a good support system, and practicing mindfulness & meditation have helped me the most. It is helpful to know that others suffer too. It is a diagnosis that does not go away. We can learn to cope with it and recover enough to be functional, but it is always with us. Good luck with your Masters. I have half way through mine! Cynthia from California

      • Lynn Williams


  • g simpson

    I was diagnosed with PTSD after experiencing so many traumatic experiences where I have very little memory of these excruciating experiences. now PTSD has been used against me when it comes to my beautiful amazing daughters who are now aged 4 and 9 at the time they were aged 1 and 6yrs old. there has been social work involvement since I had my last breakdown 3years ago and all they have done is keep my daughters away from me rather than help me and support me in this illness that I have no awareness of. yet again I have been stigmatised through my children’s suffering and my suffering. please I wish that there was so much more awareness of this disease. it doesn’t matter whether u are a war veteran or just a young woman with traumatic experiences this is a real disease which should definitely have more awareness and not looked upon as outsiders. please help and do not ignore for the sake of my daughters and myself I beg u x

  • Novak Jim

    Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder, it is much terrible. After a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel frightened, anxious and sad.

    physical therapy center

  • My son suffers from PTSD

    I like your graphic but the one thing that really stood out to me was the statistic you listed about the number of women and men who develop PTSD in their lifetime. Stating that 10% of women and ONLY (my emphasis) 5% of me develop PTSD in their lifetime marginalizes the men who suffer from this and makes it seem as if they are weaker or maybe not as injured because of the numbers? I would ask that you consider leaving the word only out of the statistic and just state the fact that about 10% of women and 5% of men develop PTSD in their lifetime.

  • Andrew Robert

    hello, i just want to say thank you to a great man who has turn my life around, who has made my life so peaceful i have been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder for years (PTSD). I have actually lost hope as i thought there is no cure until i meant Dr Olumba who made me smile again and restore my life.all i did was to follow all he ask and after that he promise he was going to cast the spell which him did and after that all was okay with me just like that i thought it was a dream but today am perfectly okay and living fine. If you are suffering from PSTD or any mental illness just contact

  • United Medical Education

    Most people don’t realize that PTSD also follows major health events. Did you know that those who suffer from a heart attack or stroke often experience PTSD? Even healthcare providers that have their ACLS, PALS, or BLS certification should also look into post event treatments for patients. You can learn more about those treatments at This is a great infographic giving some great information. Thank you for sharing it with us.