Posttraumatic stress disorder


What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome characterized by persistent anxiety-related symptoms provoked by a traumatic event. These symptoms are comprised of three clusters: Re-experiencing symptoms such as recurrent intrusive thoughts about the trauma, nightmares, and flashbacks, numbing symptoms such as detachment from others and loss of interest in usual activities, and a third cluster of miscellaneous symptoms including an exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance, and memory impairment. Estimates of the prevalence of PTSD vary widely; the National Comorbidity Survey found rates of 8.2% among men and 20.4% among women (Kessler et al., 1995). The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS, Kulka et al., 1990) reported that 30.9% of American soldiers who served in Vietnam developed PTSD; this figure rose to 50% if subsyndromal PTSD was counted. Although these figures continue to be widely cited, the NVVRS has been widely criticized on several grounds, including reliance on undocumented, retrospective self-reports of trauma, lack of measurement of impairment, and most importantly the simple fact that only 15% of those serving in Vietnam were actually in combat units.


Book Section




James D. Herbert
Evan M. Forman

Original Work Citation

Herbert, J. D., & Forman, E. M. (2006). Posttraumatic stress disorder. In J. E. Fisher & W. T. O'Donohue (Eds.), Practitioner's guide to evidence-based psychotherapy (pp. 555-566). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co



“Posttraumatic stress disorder,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 30, 2020,

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