Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder brought on by a person experiencing one or more traumatic events. Everyday stressor events could be sexual assault, the threat of death, sustaining a severe injury or fighting in a war. The result of the event or events typically leaves the individual with feelings of intense fear, horror, or powerlessness.
Anxiety disorders are based on fear, a reaction to a current event. And anxiety, a worry about future events. Anxiety disorder physical symptoms can be bouts of shakiness or an accelerated heart rate.
For the person who has post-traumatic stress disorder, reactions and avoidance behaviours are common in nature. The subjects of PTSD may avoid thinking about verbally speaking of the stressor event. However, the event or events will haunt the individual. This will occur in the form of intrusive and persistent recollections, such as flashbacks and nightmares. If these manifestations last longer than three months, they can be chronic.
The results of chronic stress disorder can result in a myriad of effects and reactions, both physical and mental. For children, they include:
The children find it hard to establish relationship boundaries. They also suffer from social isolation, lack of trust and develop a lack of empathy.
Children’s motor skills become dysfunctional. Medical problems develop and persist.
AFFECT OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION
There is a problem with expressing emotion. The children also find it hard to communicate their wants and desires to others.
The children may develop amnesia: sometimes about the stressor events. Memory loss also may occur.
Children with the disorder may have trouble controlling their impulses and feelings. They may also suffer from a lack of sleep.
Children may suffer from learning retention. They find it hard to process new information. Their language skills will also suffer.
Poor body image, low self-esteem, and excessive shame from children suffering from chronic stress disorder.
In adults, the characteristics are different in some cases, the same in others. Adults may have extreme difficulty in regulating their emotions. It could result in prolonged sadness, suicidal thoughts, crazy anger issues, or covert anger.
Another result of the disorder is emotional swings in consciousness. Stressor events can be forgotten or relived in the form of flashbacks or nightmares.
Adults suffering from chronic stress disorder may feel helpless, guilty, or believe they no longer like other human beings.
Suppose the subject has been traumatized by an individual. In that case, they may become obsessed with them, either granting them power over their lives or, on the other end of the spectrum, seeking revenge against the perpetrator.
Relationships with family or friends can be altered or twisted, resulting in isolation behaviour, or sudden bouts of mistrust.
Chronic stress disorder was first identified in 1997 in Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman.
Extreme traumatic events are known to be the cause of PTSD. It is believed that if the traumatic event is intense enough, post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest itself even when no predisposing conditions exist in the individual. People commonly found to be at risk for the disease are combat military personnel, natural disaster survivors, and victims of violent crimes.
Survivor syndrome or survivor’s guilt can be a by-product of PTSD. It relates to survivors of such tragedies as The Holocaust, 9/11, or natural disasters such as hurricanes; The individuals suffer symptoms such as depression and anxiety, lack of sleep, and nightmares. These individuals are stricken with guilt for having survived, while others close to them perished. Survivor syndrome has been classified as an essential symptom of PTSD.
Family violence can be a crucial element in developing the condition. According to studies, approximately 25% of school-age children exposed to family violence can experience PTSD. However, being exposed to such violence may not be the sole determining factor. Sensory episodes in individuals may have more to do with the development of the disorder. Re-experiences of the traumatic events can be a crucial factor, especially if the suffering person has those experiences while thinking they are occurring in real-time vs being a known re-experience.
The concept of evolutionary psychology is also seen as a determining factor. It seeks to discover what human traits are acquired through evolution. It argues that the human mind has a modular structure similar to the body. The theory is that human behaviour develops to survive recurrent problems. It argues that PTSD psychologically evolved to compensate for an overactivation of the mind’s fear circuits.
Some believe that genetics play a key role in who is most susceptible to PTSD.
Mammals have two hippocampi. Located within the brain, they play a role in consolidating long term and short term memory. Relating to post-traumatic stress disorder, it is believed that people with smaller hippocampus are more likely to develop the disease after suffering traumatic events.
Effective diagnosis of PTSD can, at times, not be quickly made. Many cases go undiagnosed for substantial periods.
The lifetime prevalence of the disorder in the United States is 8 to 9 per cent. Victims of extreme trauma develop the condition 25 to 30 per cent of the time.
Usually, to reach a point where a diagnosis can occur, Who must throw a patient’s everyday activities out of proportion for at least a month. Patients are initially characterized with acute stress disorder if they have been known to have three or more dissociative symptoms. If the problems persist, a diagnosis of PTSD may then take place.
Uncovering PTSD in patients can be, at times, a daunting task. Patients may not realize the link between their abnormal behaviour and a traumatic event they suffered. Or they may not choose to reveal to doctors what happened to them; Offshoot behaviour may obscure the root cause. Alcohol and drug abuse could become the target of the treatment.
Physicians have to uncover the disorder by asking the correct questions. “Have you been a victim of a violent crime? “Did you suffer a frightening event during your childhood?” are examples.
A specifically designed questionnaire for post-traumatic stress disorder reportedly has a sensitivity of 80 per cent and a specificity of 97 per cent.
MILITARY RELATED PTSD
The term “war is hell” is short but very accurate. Combat soldiers that find themselves thrown into the midst of intense and deadly war campaigns exist as a breeding ground for PTSD. It is easy to see why. Most combat soldiers are just regular guys. They volunteer or get drafted into military service.
Although they receive training, it is unlikely a good percentage of new combat soldiers are prepared for the horrors of war they will be thrust into. A soldier could be joking with a buddy in one moment, and in the next instant, his buddy could be shot and killed or blown to bit by a grenade. The soldier would be left to grapple with why he survived, and his buddy did not.
While the reasons for military personnel to have problems seem pretty obvious, diagnosis and treatment face barriers from within the soldier ranks. Many soldiers don’t seek help for fear of being stigmatized as weak; They have concerns about how reporting mental problems might impact their careers.
In 2004, the U.S Army conducted a mental health study. It concluded that 1 in 8 troops displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 6,200 soldiers were surveyed before they were deployed and six to eight months after returning. A few months after soldiers returned from deployment in Afghanistan or Iraq, who led the surveys. Symptoms related to PTSD were revealed by 16 per cent of the returning troops. Before going off to war, the rate was 5 per cent.
Studies are done years after Vietnam and Persian gulf campaigns show that 15 per cent of Vietnam veterans showed signs of the disorder. 2 to 10 per cent of Gulf War veterans did the same.
A 2008 study focused on several aspects of army personnel related to PTSD. It found varying degrees of disorder-like symptoms connected to troops returning to civilian life.
One group has to cope with stressors related to their return home, combined with reliving the traumatic events associated with the war. Yet, they can navigate their feelings enough to reintegrate themselves into civilian life.
The middle group has some symptoms but can navigate without any significant stressors.
The third group are greatly plagued by their PTSD and have many problems functioning normally.
There have not been many studies of how killing relates to triggering post-traumatic stress disorder. A few studies of Vietnam veterans did find a connection between the killing and the disease. But in the case of over the top situations, such as the killing of unarmed civilians, the extreme behaviour didn’t contribute to stressors. It was the act of killing that initiated the problems.
Although killing in war is sanctioned by governments, soldiers in combat situations faced with the possibility of killing or being killed themselves reach an overwhelmed breaking point that can lead to symptoms of the disorder.
Managing their return to so-called everyday life can be difficult for the returning veteran. One helpful device is couples or family therapy. It can work as a preventative measure for the soldier, as well as helping a spouse or children understand the challenges of a combat soldier trying to re-adjust to non-military life. Who can establish new lines of communication among the family? The veteran can smooth over the feelings that his family will never understand what he went through during the war.
Veterans returning to work or school can also experience adjustment difficulties. Authority figures could generate negative feelings; due to the veteran being turned off by military brass, he feels betrayed during the war. Therapy can also be a help with such situations.
The primary method of treating PTSD is to relieve the patient of the disorder’s symptoms by dealing directly with the type of trauma experienced. The patient will be asked to recall the emotions involved with the hope of positively processing them.
The patient will be encouraged to thoroughly explore their thoughts and feelings about the trauma during the therapy. It is hoped that the patients will work through their feelings of guilt, self-blame, and mistrust. They can then cope with and control intrusive memories related to the traumatic event or events. Once this is done, the patient can address problems PSTD has caused in their life and relationships.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach to behavioral modification to address dysfunctional emotions and behaviors. A series of goal-oriented systematic procedures treat the patient’s disorder.
CBT is designed to be an effective form of treatment for various conditions and disorders, including mood, anxiety, eating, and substance abuse. Therapists in this field use a mixture of cognitive and behavioral therapy to alleviate the patient’s symptoms and vulnerabilities.
Regarding PTSD, CBT therapy attempts to change the patient’s patterns of thinking or behaviour. This form of treatment is considered to be the gold standard by the United States Department of Defense.,
Another approach to treating PTSD is the somewhat controversial eye movement desensitization reprocessing procedure. It is a type of psychotherapy pioneered by Francine Shapiro. While thinking about distressing memories, she noticed her eyes were rushing. Her eye movements came under control while thinking less disturbing thoughts.
The basics of the therapy are the use of eye movement to facilitate memory processing. Rapid eye movement is used on the patient while focusing on the traumatic memories that have plagued them. Hand movements by the therapist are used to get the patient to move their eyes back and forth. Lessening the eye movement would then reduce the impact of the bad memories. How effective this therapy continues to be a source of controversy.
A variety of medications have had some success in reducing PTSD symptoms. But there is no clear cut treatment drug. Positive signs respond better to medication than negative symptoms. Experts say any drug trial used for the treatment of PTSD should last at least 6 to 8 weeks.
A medication, hydrocortisone, has proven effective if taken shortly after a traumatic event. It will decrease the possibility of a person contracting PTSD. Still, at this time, no known drug will prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.