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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a very serious and debilitating condition that occurs after a person has been exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical danger happened or was threatened. The kinds of traumatic events triggering PTSD in people include violent personal assaults (rape, mugging), natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes), man-made disasters (bombings), accidents or military combat. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair a person’s daily life. PTSD is a complicated illness by the act that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health.

PTSD is not a new disorder. There are many written accounts of similar symptoms that go back to ancient times. There is also clear documentation in the historical medical literature starting with the Civil War, when a PTSD-like disorder was known as “Ad Costa’s Syndrome.” There are also good descriptions of PTSD in medical literature based on combat veterans of World War II and on Holocaust survivors. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme. The key to understanding PTSD is the concept of trauma. A traumatic event was seen as a catastrophic stressor that was outside the range of usual human experience. The original diagnosis was made due to events such as war, torture, rape, the Nazi Holocaust, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, natural disasters, and human-made disasters. They considered traumatic events to be clearly different from the painful stressors of every day events such as divorce, failure, rejection, serious illness, and financial reverses. Because all people handle stress on different levels it is very had to determine who will suffer from PTSD when exposed to traumatic events.

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hype...

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...n with regular PTSD, and progresses at a slower rate, and requires a sensitive and structured treatment program by a trauma specialist.

With new research and medical developments happening at such a fast pace, the treatment plans for PTSD are constantly changing, but more importantly, the treatment is always geared towards each individual person.

Works Cited

De Jong, J., Komproe, T.V.M., Ivan, H., von Ommeren, M., El Masri, M., Khaled, N., van de Put, W., & somasundarem, D.J. (2001). Lifetime events and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in 4 Postconflict settings. Journal of the American Medical Association, 286 (5), 555-562.

Freidman, M.J., Charney, D.S. & Deutch, A.Y. (1995) Neurobiological and clinical consequences of stress: From Normal Adaptation to PTSD.Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.

Keane, T.M., Wolfe, J., & Taylor, K.I. (1987) Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Evidence for diagnostic validity and methods of psychological assessment. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 32-43.

Kessler, R.C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M. & Nelson, C.B.(1996). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the National Comorbibity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52,1048-1060.
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