Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a widespread disorder that affects certain individuals psychologically, behaviorally, and emotionally following the experience of a traumatic event (Lee et al., 2005, p. 135). However, because of inconsistencies regarding the percentage of individuals who experience PTSD and the percentage of individuals who subsequently develop PTSD, researchers hypothesize that both biological and environmental factors contribute to the development of PTSD (Wolf et al. 2010, p. 328). In order gain a better understanding of this disorder and to discover contributing and predicative factors which contribute to the development of PTSD, this paper analyses the historical context and prevalence of PTSD, the biological and environmental contributing factors, and types of intervention used to mediate the effects of PTSD. In conclusion, the paper advocates the interrelated nature of environmental and biological influences on the development of PTSD and suggests future areas of research which may increase an interventionists ability to assist an individual suffering from PTSD.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that may occur after an individual has experienced one or more intense or traumatic experiences (Friedman, 2007). These experiences may include anything that causes an individual to experience trauma such as combat exposure, sexual assault, physical abuse, or a life-threatening situation (Gersons & Carlier, 1992). However, not all individuals who are exposed to traumatic level of stress develop PTSD which suggests that some individuals may be more susceptible to the disorder than others (Lee et al., 2005, p. 135). Consequently, research regarding PTSD typically involves an examination of both environmental and biological factors which may contribute to the development of PTSD. Most researchers agree that while PTSD may partially arise from an individual’s genetic predisposition to psychopathology, the expression and degree of PTSD related symptoms may differ depending on the individual’s environment and specific experience (Wolf et al. 2010, p. 328). This paper examines PTSD in regard to historical content, relevant research, and types of intervention in order to determine what factors predominately contribute to and predict the development of PTSD. Description
The symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can often be terrifying and have the potential to significantly alter an individual’s ability to continue with simple, routine activities. Symptoms of PTSD frequently start directly following the occurrence of a traumatic event, but in some cases symptoms may not occur until months or years after the event. Symptoms may also come and go over several years, indicating that the individual is experiencing PTSD. Although symptoms of PTSD are idiosyncratic, the DSM-IV requires that all patients diagnosed with PTSD should express “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (Hales & Zatzick, 2007). The DSM-IV also lists several more specific symptoms that must occur for an individual to be diagnosed with PTSD. Physical symptoms may include skin disorders, bowel problems, headaches, vomiting, and fatigue (First, Frances, & Pincus, 2002). Behavioral PTSD symptoms listed in the DSM-IV include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, depression, guilt, insomnia, nightmares, recurring memories, and emotional outbursts (First, Frances, & Pincus, 2002). Although the DSM-IV lists several different types of symptoms that an individual suffering from PTSD may experience, there are four main types of symptoms found to occur in almost all individuals suffering from this disorder. The first symptom that most often occurs in these individuals is re-experiencing symptoms. These symptoms are due to horrifying memories of the traumatic event that come back...
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