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Post Truamatic Stress Disorder

Free Psychology Essays

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The human being differs from other creatures by its extremely high level of survival. However, some situations can have shocking and dislocating effect on our psyche and health. This often leads to an unnatural perception of reality that lasts for a long time. When a traumatic event continues to influence our behavior and has a permanent negative impact on our life, it can be a sign of post-traumatic stress.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after experiencing trauma, especially if one used to have a strong feeling of danger. Even if a person is not injured and is not at risk, he or she can still get PTSD. For example, a fear of death or abuse can become impetus for this disorder. It all depends on how big the portion of stress is. It is known that the greater persons emotional distress during a trauma, the higher the risk for displaying the post-traumatic symptoms. The more frequent and severe the assault experience, the more adverse the long term outcomes tend to be.

This mental disorder is often associated with soldiers who cannot forget the terrible memories of the battles. In addition, there are other people who get PTSD, such as victims of serious crimes (rape or assault) or surviving witnesses of the accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Post-traumatic stress can cause permanent bad memories that are clear and distinct; they always remind people of the accident. Those who suffer from PTSD usually have trouble with sleeping. There is a feeling of alienation, guilt, and sometimes paranoia and panic. People with the diagnosis of PTSD are prone to suicide.

Some Historical Facts about PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a relatively young disorder recognized by the World Health Organization in 1980 as a painful disorder. A significant fact is that this disorder is manifested as an external effect of hazards or so-called extremely burdensome events.

Historically, this phenomenon is known as neurosis. There were a lot of people who suffered from it after the First World War; they were called cowards. In 1941, Kardiner introduced the concept of psychoneurosis which, no doubt, was the predecessor to the modern, more differentiated description of neurophysiological and neurobiological mechanisms of emergence and existence of the disorder. The concept, which was introduced by Kardiner, illustrates the physical and mental chronic symptoms that occurred later.

Along with these traumas arising out of international conflicts, in the nineteenth century Freud and Janet reported a similar picture of feelings, especially in women. Explanation of these observations is very similar to the modern definition of trauma it is an event that destroys the normal processing ability. Phases of successful therapy were characterized by stability and reintegration of living environment. Unfortunately, Freud and Janet were inconsistent with the thesis of external causes, that is why apparently the symptoms of many victims were not recognized over the next 80 years.

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The comparison of the symptoms of veterans of the Vietnam War and the consequences of family and sexual violence in the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century demonstrated as part of the movement for women’s rights became a real recovery in the process of recognition of the disorder. The leading role in this was played by Judith Herman. Her name was connected with the term Scars of Violence, which was used to name those who had symptoms of PTSD. Later in 1980, the disorder was recognized under the term Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and in 1990 it was explained as a reaction to severe stress and disturbance of adaptation.

Symptoms of PTSD

1) Constant return to feelings associated with traumatic event within 6 months after severe traumatic events:

  • Intrusive memories, fantasies, reminiscences that constantly disturb and cause an unpleasant emotional feeling;
  • Dreams and nightmares related to the traumatic events that are constantly repeated;
  • The so-called Flashback effect;
  • Outbreak of negative emotions provoked by any situations associated with the circumstances of the traumatic event.

2) Sustainable desire to avoid anything that even indirectly reminds of injury:

  • The desire to avoid any thoughts or situations that arouse recollections of the trauma;
  • Inability of the memory to reproduce the important elements of a traumatic situation;
  • A noticeable loss of former interests and hobbies;
  • Feelings of alienation, exclusion from others through the suspension from the surrounding real world, numbness of feelings and avoiding stimuli that can remind of the trauma;
  • A significant reduction in positive emotional experiences;
  • Uncertainty about the future;

3) Increased excitability:

  • Difficulty with falling or staying asleep;
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger, fear, aggression or panic provoked by any stimuli causing sudden recollection of the injury or the initial reaction on it;
  • Difficulty with concentration;
  • Hypertrophied alert and sharp response to sudden stimuli.

Sometimes symptoms cannot be observed, especially in quite conditions. However, they are brightly expressed during stressful situations.

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Relationship between PTSD and other Disorders

People who are diagnosed with PTSD often suffer from other mental disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance use disorders. Doctors consider PTSD as an anxiety disorder, however it has a tendency to co-occur with other types of anxiety disorders, for example, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute stress disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.

PTSD and Panic Disorder

People suffering from PTSD are found to stand more chances of experiencing panic attacks, which leads to the development of panic disorder. In fact, around 7% of men and 13% of women with PTSD also have panic disorder – a rate much higher than what is found in the general population. Learn more about what panic disorder is, as well as why PTSD and panic disorder may commonly co-occur.

PTSD and Social Anxiety Disorder

Sometimes people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may have some symptoms, such as high level of depression, which are not usually related to PTSD. This means that except for this disorder, they must have symptoms of social anxiety disorder, co-occurred with PTSD. According to Matthew Tull (n. d), the following symptoms often occur in people suffering from both disorders mentioned above:

  1. Frequent and unending fear of social situations or situations where you are expected to perform in some way;
  2. Fear of appearing anxious or acting in a way that will bring embarrassment or humiliation;
  3. Upcoming contact with a feared situation almost always causes anxiety, sometimes even in the form of a panic attack.

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Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Studies have shown that nearly 20% of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Besides, nearly 50% of patients with OCD experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.

Treatment

Currently, psychiatrists and other professionals in the mental health field successfully treat PTSD. Using a variety of therapeutic techniques, they help people overcome their anxiety and pain, relieving them from the unbearable suffering.

The most effective treatment is a combination of PTSD psychotherapeutic techniques with drug therapy. During the process of treatment, such medications as antidepressants, tranquilizers, and mood stabilizers are very effective. Those drugs have to be prescribed by a psychiatrist individually taking into consideration each patient’s condition.

One of the most important types of PTSD treatment is psychotherapy. Its function is correcting the pathological forms of behavior, getting rid of obsessions, applying human learning techniques of relaxation and restoration of normal mental processes. Using other similar methods, doctor examines the patient environment in order to determine what may exacerbate symptoms of PTSD and works on reducing the sensitivity to these factors, or teaches the patient how to develop self-control skills. The aim is to eliminate the conscious and unconscious conflicts that were created as a result of the experienced trauma. Also people work on the development of self-esteem, self-control and personal responsibility. Doctors may recommend family therapy, during which the doctor makes changes in family relationships.

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment that seems to work quite well for PTSD. Briefly, during this treatment a therapist asks you to think about the aspects of the traumatic event. Whilst you are thinking about this, you follow the movement of the therapist’s fingers with your eyes. It is not clear how this works. It seems to desensitize your thought patterns about the traumatic event. After a few sessions of therapy, you may find that the memories of the event do not upset you as much as they did before (Kenny, n. d.).

Another effective way to treat people suffering from PTSD is to create groups of abused or support groups. In these groups, people who have experienced traumatic events, share experiences with each other. The group members help each other realize that a lot of people have gone through it, and that there is no man alone in his grief or guilt. This way helps people change their minds about themselves and others and produce a positive feeling towards their personality.

These ways of treatment can be used outside the clinic. When a painful disorder is so deep that one can pose a threat to others, he or she is recommended to undergo personal treatment.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common problem for veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 percent of them getting back home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. That is why recent innovations in the PTSD treatment sphere are directed toward treating veterans.

A new technology based on using Cognitive Processing Therapy and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is about to be invented. The technology aspect, TMS, is a handheld figure-eight shaped magnetic coil held over the right forehead region that alternates positive and negative polarity to induce a low-voltage electrical current that is painlessly directed toward the volunteers head. The goal of TMS is to cause frightening battlefield memories to no longer result in the powerful reaction to which veterans are accustomed.

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After 40 minutes of TMS, the patient transitions to CPT, which is a psychological training session used to help veterans reduce their emotional reactions that come with PTSD (Nielson, n. d.).

The idea of this technology is to provide a patient with a safe condition and get him back to the traumatic event so that he or she can take all that fear under control. This is how post-traumatic stress disorder is going to be treated soon.

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