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Definition of Shell shock

Shell shock: The World War I name for what is known today as post-traumatic stress, this is a psychological disorder that develops in some individuals who have had major traumatic experiences (and, for example, have been in a serious accident or through a war). The person is typically numb at first but later has symptoms including depression, excessive irritability, guilt (for having survived while others died), recurrent nightmares, flashbacks to the traumatic scene, and overreactions to sudden noises. Post-traumatic stress became known as such in the 70s due to the adjustment problems of some Vietnam veterans.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5474
Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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