Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Topics: Psychological trauma, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Posttraumatic stress disorder Pages: 18 (6041 words) Published: January 24, 2013
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that presents in form of anxiety disorder, and it usually develops following exposure to an event or incident that is terrifying and mostly associated with an increased risk or actual occurrence of severe body harm. These events exceed the coping capabilities of the individual, resulting into psychological trauma. As a result of the trauma, the affected individual develops fear conditioning in their brain, possibly because of certain brain chemicals that are released. Some structures in the brain are also thought to undergo atrophy. The risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder is also influenced by genetics and personal characteristics, for example childhood experience, previous exposure and preexisting conditions such as depression, gender and degree of exposure to trauma (Fullerton & Ursano, 2005). Most people who develop this condition are those who have been exposed to traumatic incidents in their childhood or adulthood, like natural disasters, manmade disasters, accidents, military combat, and violent physical abuse, as individuals or witnessing someone else undergo the incidents. About two thirds of the population worldwide becomes exposed to significant traumatic situations in the course of their lifetime. The level of exposure to or experience of a traumatic event is consistently associated with the likelihood of developing PSTD. The development of post traumatic stress disorder also shows significant correlation with poor socioeconomic settings, age, race, ethnicity, and employment status. The affected people undergo continuous frightening thoughts as they recall the terrifying experiences, often having sleep problems and feeling detached and becoming withdrawn. The patients develop psychological problems such as neuroticism, guilt, difficulties in concentration, poor coping skills, and obsessive symptoms. The level of social support available for the people who have been exposed to traumatic events is the strongest determinant of the risk of post traumatic stress disorder (Fullerton & Ursano, 2005). Post traumatic stress disorder is classified as acute, chronic or delayed onset. Acute posttraumatic stress disorder presents with symptoms that do not persist beyond three months, while in the chronic form the symptoms last more than three months. Delayed onset post traumatic stress disorder is the one in which the symptoms start appearing about six months following exposure to the traumatic event. As compared to normal stress that is usually associated with acute reactions that rapidly return to the normal state, the biological and psychological mechanisms in post traumatic stress disorder are chronic and often become severe with time (Fullerton & Ursano, 2005). Current treatment of post traumatic stress disorder includes exposure therapies and anxiety management trainings as the first-line treatments. Pharmacological therapies such as the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have also been designed and shown to be effective, though intensive studies are in progress to develop other form of drugs. In spite of the possible efficacy of pharmaceutical interventions, psychological treatments still remain the preferred therapeutic approaches for this disorder (Keane, Marshall & Taft, 2006). The outcome of the therapeutic interventions depends on the level of social support, and lack of symptoms such as avoidance, emotional numbing and hyperarousal. According to Keane, Marshall and Taft (2006), PSTD has been in existence for many centuries though it became recognized in the 1980. This condition was commonly linked to warfare, until studies demonstrated the occurrence of similar symptoms in the civilian population exposed to natural disasters, mass catastrophes and tragic accidents. Prior to this, post traumatic stress disorder was...

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