Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are common reactions to traumatic events?

A: Experiencing an extremely stressful event, such as an assault or car accident, can be emotionally painful. The suffering doesn’t stop when the trauma ends.

Often, trauma survivors continue to have distressing thoughts and beliefs. These include:

“People can’t be trusted—the world isn’t safe.”
“I have no control. I am going crazy.”
“My life will never be the same.”
“It was my fault—I should have known what would happen.”

At the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress, we offer treatment for the anxiety, flashbacks, and depression that often follow a trauma.


Q: What is posttraumatic stress disorder?

A: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after a person has experienced a traumatic event, such as:

  • Sexual assault
  • Childhood sexual assault
  • Assault with a weapon
  • Combat
  • Accidents and natural disasters (fire, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Armed robbery
  • Motor vehicle accidents

Research shows that many trauma survivors develop symptoms of PTSD immediately after the trauma. Many continue to suffer chronic reactions three or more months later.

Some symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Recurrent thoughts of the trauma
  • Intense feelings of fear and anxiety when reminded of the trauma
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating, racing heart, or hot or cold flashes when reminded of the trauma
  • Avoiding situations, people, or thoughts associated with the trauma
  • Feelings of detachment from others
  • Difficulty experiencing strong emotions (feeling numb)
  • Jumpiness or a tendency to be easily startled

Q: How can I receive help at UWCATS?

A: At the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress, we study and treat PTSD. Because we receive funding for our research, we are able to offer no-cost services to eligible individuals who are experiencing trauma-related problems.

To find out if you are eligible for our services, please call the UWCATS at (206) 685-3617. One of our staff will conduct a brief interview by phone (approximately 20 min) asking you about your trauma history, related symptoms, and previous treatment. If you are potentially eligible for one of our clinical trials, we will invite you into the center for an in-depth interview (approximately 3 hours) with one of our staff going into further detail about your trauma history, related symptoms, and previous treatment. If you are not eligible for any of our services, we will provide free referrals to other sources.

Q: What is a clinical trial?

A: A clinical trial is a research study where patients are randomly assigned to one more more interventions to determine their effectiveness. Clinical trials can help us answer specific questions about new therapies or new ways of using established treatments. When being considered for a Clinical Trial, the research staff will provide you with an informed consent document that includes the following details: why the research is being done, what will be done during the trial, what risks and benefits can be expected, availability of alternative treatments, contact information, confidentiality, and any costs.