Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Introduction

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, such as military combat; a violent attack such as mugging, rape, or torture; being kidnapped or held captive; child abuse; a serious accident such as a car wreck; or a natural disaster such as a fire or flood. The event that triggers PTSD may be the threatened death or serious injury to one’s self; witnessing the death, near death or serious injury of another person; or learning about the death, near death or serious injury of a family member or close friend.

When the aftermath of a traumatic experience interferes with normal functioning for more than a month after the event, a person may be suffering from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD can cause significant disruption in an individual’s ability to socialize, work, or function normally.

Symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Reexperiencing the event, which can include recurrent and intrusive recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, dreams or flashbacks
  • Avoidance of activities, situations, people and/or conversations which remind the person of the trauma
  • A general numbness and loss of interest in people and one’s surroundings
  • Hypersensitivity, including difficulty sleeping, anxious feelings, irritability, overactive startle response and hypervigilance

Symptoms of PTSD usually occur within three months of a traumatic event, although there can be a delayed onset and many months or years can pass before symptoms appear.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy, in which the patient gradually and repeatedly relives the frightening experience under controlled conditions, have been shown to be effective treatments for PTSD. Medications also help ease associated symptoms of depression and anxiety and help promote sleep.

Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care. Last year, nearly 50,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients, and there were nearly 450,000 outpatient visits to the Medical Center.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers, Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants.

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program (MAP)

The Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program (MAP) in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine is devoted to understanding the causes of mood and anxiety disorders and aims to advance new treatments to improve the quality of life for patients who are affected by them. MAP at Mount Sinai uses state-of-the-art brain imaging, genetic, and clinical trials methods to enhance our understanding of brain processes associated with these disorders. Our research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, various private foundation grants as well as industry supported grants.

MAP at Mount Sinai is currently conducting several research studies in mood and anxiety disorders. All of our participants will receive reimbursement for their time, and all treatment studies are conducted entirely free of charge.