Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen post-traumatic stress (also known as acute stress response). Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal—such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hyper-vigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria (both DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10) require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.


How Can a Service Dog Assist With PTSD Symptoms?


Symptoms Service Dog Task Type of Task
Reclusiveness Initiate activity outside the home Physical
Night terrors Wake up handler Physical and work
Turn on lights Physical
Startle response Stand between handler and others Physical
Alert to presence of others Physical
Memory loss Remind to take medication Physical
Find keys or telephone Physical
Dissociative fugue Guide handler home or to a safe place Physical
Hypervigilance Search house for intruders Physical
Dissociative flashback Tactile stimulation Physical
Grounding Work
Sensory overload Tactile or deep pressure stimulation Physical
Social withdrawal Initiate interpersonal interaction Work
Emotional escalation Alert to emotional escalation Work
Hallucination Hallucination discernment Work
Suicidal ideation Stay with and focus on handler Work
Deep pressure stimulation Physical