The Dark Reality
Joseph A. Sopko
Coatesville Area School District
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
The Dark Reality
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is sweeping through the lives of people like an epidemic. It is a very dangerous illness that has extremely negative effects, but sometimes goes untreated because of the ignorance of certain individuals. Some believe it is a “made-up” illness and is not a reality, but it is a reality, a dark reality that impacts the lives of many and even devastates communities and families. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness. According to the Mayo Clinic (2006), “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.” This is how doctors describe PTSD. The DSM-IV-TR (2000), which is the guidebook to diagnosing mental illnesses, describes the criterion for PTSD. The DSM-IV-TR (2000) has three criterion and descriptions of each. The DSM-IV-TR (2000) states the first criterion as the following: Criterion A: stressor
The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present: 1. The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others. 2. The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: in children, it may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior. The first criterion in the DSM-IV-TR (2000) for describing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is “Criterion A: stressor.” This criterion refers to the possible causes of PTSD. It states that a traumatic event must be witnessed and they must have a negative response to it, such as horror, fear, or helplessness. Children respond differently however. Their response could either be disorganization of agitated behavior. The stressor can be many things. In this generation, the stressor is that is most talked about is war. Many United States soldiers who return from war struggle to get away from it. The experiences they had overseas never go away. They constantly relive them. According to Grieger (2006), “A recent study of combat troops following return from deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq found postwar rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ranging from 12.2% to 12.9%.” This statistic is shocking. Professionals in the medical fields are the ones who diagnose this mental illness, but the soldiers are the ones who live it. To believe that this is a “made-up” illness is absurd. Furthermore, other studies have been performed to prove that this is a real illness. According to the Mayo Clinic (2006), “The cause of PTSD is unknown. Psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved.” The Mayo Clinic (2006)’s case studies have proven that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disease that involves psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors. The physical factors are the key evidence is determining whether or not this is a true medical illness. The Mayo Clinic (2006) states, “PTSD changes the body's response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).” This proves the Mayo Clinic (2006) was able to observe a physical change in the body due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although there are other symptoms, many of the people who believe that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a “made-up” illness do so because of the lack of physical evidence. However, with the Mayo Clinic (2006) being able to observe and prove a physical change in the body, this argument against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is now obsolete. The mental illness known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is commonly associated with war...