Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can occur after someone goes through, sees, or learns about a traumatic event like:

  • Combat exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attack
  • Sexual/physical assault
  • Serious accident
  • Natural disaster

Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event. If your reactions don’t go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

How does PTSD develop?
Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t.

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
  • If you were injured or lost someone important to you
  • How close you were to the event
  • How strong your reaction was
  • How much you felt in control of events
  • How much help and support you got after the event

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:

  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms) – You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event – You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  • Feeling numb – You may find it hard to express your feelings, or you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal) – You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal.

What treatments are available?
When you have PTSD, dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. But treatment can help you get better. There are two main types of treatment, psychotherapy (sometimes called counseling) and medication. Sometimes people combine psychotherapy and medication.

For more information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) please visit the VA’s National Center for PTSD website at:

Resources for PTSD Information and Treatment

San Diego VA Healthcare System

Please contact your Primary Care Provider or member of the OEF/OIF Care Team for a referral for PTSD services available at the San Diego VA.
Primary Care Line: (858) 552-7475
OEF/OIF/OND Care Team Contacts:
Mission Valley & Chula Vista: Natalie Diaz, MSW (619) 400-5271
La Jolla: Rachel Zhang, MSW (858) 642-3615
Oceanside: Dana Heidmiller, MSW (760) 643-2079

Veterans Crisis Line
(800) 273-8255
Text: 838255

24/7 support line connects veterans and their families to responders who can offer support, guidance, and resources for PTSD, TBI, and other issues. Individuals can call, text, or chat online.

Semper Fi Fund
Wounded Warrior Center Building H49
Camp Pendleton, California 92055
(760) 207-0887

Offers counseling and transitioning assistance to returning service members or veterans of OIF/OEF who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The Soldiers Project
(818) 761-7438

Offers free psychological treatment to military service members who have served in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Veterans Engaging in Supportive Treatment
7850 Vista Hill Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 836-8592

Group therapy for veterans of the Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn era and their families. Supportive treatment to assist the veteran and the family unit with PTSD and Trauma as well as PTSD and substance use. Program integrates the family to provide support to the veteran and to strengthen the family unit.

Vet Center

Chula Vista:
180 Otay Lakes Road, Suite 108,
Bonita, CA 91902
(877) 618-6534

San Diego:
2790 Truxtun Road, Suite 130,
San Diego, CA 92106
(858) 642-1500

San Marcos:
One Civic Center Dr., Suite 150,
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 744-6914

40935 County Center Drive, Suite A,
Temecula, CA 92591
(951) 302-4849

Provides individual, group and family counseling to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members. All counseling is available free of charge.

Safe Warrior Outreach Program
3508 Seagate Way, Suite 160
Oceanside, CA 92056
(858) 552-7501

Offers an outreach program where attendees can work through post-traumatic stress related issues with other veterans. The program is held each Tuesday at 7:00 pm.

Wounded Warrior Homes
827 Plumosa Avenue
Vista, CA 92081
(760) 483-3533

Organization that serves service members with PTSD or TBI by providing affordable housing, access to resources, and assists in the transitioning process.

Courage to Call
24/7 Helpline: 2-1-1

Veteran-run, peer-to-peer support program in San Diego County. Services are offered to active and former military members, their families and loved ones. Callers are connected with former members of the military who understand the rigors of military life and have made the transition to civilian life. Individuals can also chat online with a peer support specialist at the Courage to Call website.

Do you have a Smart Phone?

Download the FREE PTSD Coach App:
PTSD Coach is a mobile application to assist Veterans and Active Duty personnel (and civilians) who are experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD). Key features of the app include:

  • Self-Assessment
  • Manage Symptoms
  • Find Support
  • Learn about PTSD

PTSD Coach is available on iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android)