Post-traumatic stress disorder is one among the many psychological disorders that people experience. It is a disorder associated with traumatizing events that one get exposed to in the course of daily life, work, threat of death, sexual assault, war, etc. It falls under the anxiety disorders in the DSM IV. The characteristics of the disorder are completely absent before the exposure to a traumatic event.
The PTSD results from a variety of experience. At times, if the trauma is in the extreme limits, it can occur without any predisposing conditions (U.S department of Health and Human Services). However, there are categories of occupations and persons considered to be at risk. These include victims of natural disasters, violent crimes including sexual assault, military personnel, concentration camp survivors, and other closely related events/occupations. All these people or event present the people exposed to them, with extreme fear, horror, and a feeling of total powerlessness. The fear is associated with death or possible serious injury (Fullerton, C. S. and Ursano, W., 2004). Children develop PTSD from bullying while emergency workers who are exposed to extreme physical scenes develop it slowly. However, there are specific social that have been established to lead to PTSD. These include;
True, WR, Rice, J and Eisen, S.A., (1993), showed that monozygotic twins have a higher risk experiencing PTSD than dizygotic twins. People with a smaller hippocampus have also proved to be likely to develop PTSD after exposure of a traumatic event. It is established that about 30 % of PTSD occurrences are caused by genetic makeup alone. Generalized anxiety, PTSD, and panic have a larger share of genetic variance than drug related disorders. The generalized anxiety, PTSD, and panic have 60 % genetic variance while drug related have 40 %. Several SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) in FKBP5 have shown that the interaction can determine the susceptibility of the individual to PTSD in adulthood if the person was traumatized at a tender age (Binder, EB, Bradeley RG, and Liu, W, 2008).
Children exposed consistently to family violence have higher chances of developing PTSD than those who are not. This stressing environment interacts with the stress-related genes and increases the risks of experiencing PTSD. It is worth noting that, the exposure to family violence is not the actual cause of PTSD. The cause involves the memories, flashbacks, nightmares that the person undergoes later.
At some point, at least half of the population experience at least a single event that traumatize them (Spoont, Michele; Arbisi, P; Fu, S; Greer, N; Kehle-Forbes, S; Meis, L, and Rutks, I., January 2013). However, men are more exposedto PTSD events than women, but it is the women who experience high impact traumatic events like sexual assault that lead to PTSD. The risk factors that lead to PTSD are lower in children than in adults. This is because of the limited exposure to the traumatizing events in children than it is in adults.
It is established that soldiers experience PTSD after war. A study of the post-Vietnam war on the America soldiers indicated that a majority experienced PTSD after the war. This is due to the exposure the soldiers experience in the war. Their lives are significantly threatened, and undergo excruciating scenes as seeing their co-soldiers get killed in the battle.
Misuse/abuse of drugs
People who have a long history of drug abuse are likely to develop PTSD. It can mainly happen when the individual continually use the drugs to prevent experiences of the stressing event. The long last result is totally disillusioned person who upon withdrawal from the drugs succumbs to the PSTD.
The influence of PTSD involves the following; recurrence of the experience. This happens in the form of bad dreams, flashbacks, and frightening thoughts. The person experiences the feelings he or she had when the event occurred. For example, the heart may begin to race and sweating when one has the flashbacks of the event. The recurrence in the experience may interfere with the daily routine of a person especially if objects that where in the vicinity or used, are within one’s environment as knives, firearms, etc.
Avoidance symptoms such as staying away from events, places, and other objects linked to the event is common. The persons could feel emotionally numb towards these objects or events (Olszewski, Terese M.; Varrasse, and Jeanne F., June 2005). ). It means that the interest to participate dies while other may have a problem remembering these events. For example, if one had a terrible accident experience, the person may avoid driving or riding a car.
Those affected with PTSD show hyper arousal symptoms. These include being easily startled, being tense unnecessarily, and having difficulties in sleeping. It makes the person to feel angry and remain dull. The person finds it difficult to perform daily routine including sleeping, concentration, eating, and even communicating properly with the others. It is, however, critical to understand that these effects do not necessary indicate PTSD. The reason is that, the acute stress disorder may be in play especially in the first few weeks of a traumatic event. Therefore, it only becomes PTSD after a longer period, usually more than several months. These effects are not similar to children. Children who experience PTSD may be identified using the following; bedwetting even when the children have learnt toilet skills before, abruptly forgetting how to talk, overreaction to certain events during play, and being unusually clingy to parents and other adult.
The treatment of PTSD may be preventive and curative. The most common method of preventive approach is debriefing. It involves letting the affected person share the story with a counselor (Feldner MT, Monson CM, and Friedman MJ, 2007). There are medications that have shown that when administered in close proximity to the traumatic even reduces the incidence of occurrence of PTSD. Foe example, the clonidine, reduces traumatic stress symptoms. It blocks adrenaline effect that leads to fear in an individual. Glucocorticoids have also shown that it can prevent the occurrence of PTSD if administered.
There are also other psychological therapies that are used to manage PTSD. These include stress inoculation training, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, variants of cognitive therapy, cognitive behavioral procedures and others that can be a combination of the above. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing involve reducing the movement of the eyes or just controlling the movement when a traumatic event memory crosses one’s minds. This control can be used to changes one’s memories and consequently reduce the effects of PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is aimed to change how one feels and behaves after a traumatic event. It involves the change of the patterns of thinking and behavior that a responsible to the negative feelings that lead to PTSD.
Fullerton, C. S.; Ursano, W. Acute Stress Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Depression in Disaster or Rescue Worker. Am J Psychiatry 161 (8): 1370–1376. 2004
True, WR; Rice, J; Eisen, SA . A twin study of genetic and environmental contributions to liability for posttraumatic stress symptoms. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 50 (4): 257–64. 1993
Binder, EB; Bradley, RG; Liu, W. Association of FKBP5 polymorphisms and childhood abuse with risk of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in adults. JAMA 299 (11): 1291–305. 2008
Spoont, Michele; Arbisi, P; Fu, S; Greer, N; Kehle-Forbes, S; Meis, L; Rutks, I. "Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review". Washington DC: Department of Veterans Affairs. Pubmed Health; (January 2013).
Feldner MT, Monson CM, Friedman MJ "A critical analysis of approaches to targeted PTSD prevention: current status and theoretically derived future directions". Behav Modif 31 (1): 80–116. 2007
Olszewski, Terese M.; Varrasse, Jeanne F. The Neurobiology of PTSD. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing 43 (6): 40. June 2005
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Retrieved 2014-04-15