Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Sam Matthews

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder develops after one experience either an isolated traumatic event, or recurring traumatic events. Around 8 million people in the United States are living with PTSD, yet about 70% of US adults have reported they have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. This discrepancy is due to the fact that being exposed to a traumatic event does not in any way mean that you are going to develop PTSD. Factors that contribute to the likelihood of someone developing post-traumatic stress disorder include: a preexisting mental or physical health condition, dissociation during trauma, type of trauma, gender (women are 2x as likely to develop PTSD), age, marital status, support systems, and experience of additional stressors after the trauma. One type of PTSD is classified as dissociative, which includes the presence of persistent depersonalization or derealization symptoms. Depersonalization is like dissociation, where one experiences something as if they are an observer. Derealization on the other hand refers to feeling as if the things around you are not real, and you are disconnected from the world around you. PTSD can also have a delayed onset aspect, which means that one could develop PTSD years after the traumatic event has occurred.

PTSD has four main symptom groups which are as follows:

  1. Intrusive Symptoms
    1. Frequent thoughts or memories of the event
    2. Recurrent nightmares
    3. Flashbacks
    4. Strong feelings of distress
    5. Increased heart rate or sweating when reminded of the event
  2. Avoidance
    1. Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the event
    2. Actively avoiding places or people that remind you of the trauma
    3. Keeping yourself too busy to have time to think about the traumatic event
  3. Hyperarousal
    1. Difficulty falling asleep
    2. Irritability
    3. Outbursts of anger
    4. Difficulty concentrating
    5. Hyperactive startle response
  4. Negative Thoughts and Beliefs
    1. Difficulty remembering important aspects of the trauma
    2. Loss of interest in important and positive activities
    3. Feeling distant from others
    4. Inability to have positive feelings
    5. Feeling as though your life may be cut short

For information regarding the treatment of PTSD, please refer to the article titled, PTSD Treatment.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder#1

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