Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a new name for a very old condition. In the earlier 1900s, it was known as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue." Before then, it had no name. In PTSD, a witness or victim of a terrible event or tragedy is so haunted by memories of the event that personal health and personality is affected. These symptoms persist for more than one month after the traumatic event, and occur together with other conditions such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
Research suggests that 9.2% of the Canadian population will be affected at one time in their life with PTSD. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. The specific type of trauma is important in the gender distribution. For example, women exposed to a physical attack or threatened with a weapon are more likely to develop PTSD than men who are exposed to the same trauma. But women who are sexually assaulted are less likely to develop PTSD than men who are sexually assaulted. About 76% of Canadians have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime and about 43% of those individuals can present with PTSD.