Causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by witnessing or being involved in a traumatic or frightening experience such as:

  • Violence against you
  • Rape or sexual assault
  • A car accident
  • War
  • Natural disasters such as fire or earthquake
  • Seeing someone die
  • Traumatic childbirth

Not everybody who experiences something traumatic will develop PTSD. The risk of developing PTSD depends on how the experience affects you. PTSD is more likely if the event:

  • Involves children
  • Is unexpected
  • Goes on for a long time
  • Involved being trapped
  • Causes many deaths
  • Causes mutilation
  • Is caused by people

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