Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By: Michaela Dunn

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after experiencing a traumatic event.

Which body system does it affect?

The body system affected by this disorder is the nervous system-your brain. When a veteran or someone who has been in the war has this condition, they experience flashbacks and negative memories, which is stored in part of their brain-the Hippocampus. Other parts of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex, involve tasks such as decision making, problem solving, and judgement.
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How the brain works with and without PTSD

The way the nervous system works normally is that there are billions of neurons in your brain. They all transmit information to the brain and have different specialized jobs. For example: sensory neurons take information from our eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin to the brain. If you are someone who has PTSD, your nervous system functions differently. Post-traumatic stress disorder overstimulates your nervous system, leaving you feeling on high alert all the time. Instead of those negative memories being stored away, you constantly just think of them. Even certain smells or loud noises could remind you of being in combat, making you remember it again.

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Who is affected?

Anyone can be diagnosed with Post traumatic stress disorder at any age, both male and females too. War veterans and those who have survived abuse, accidents, disasters, sexual assault, and many other serious events, sometimes results in being diagnosed with PTSD. You don't have to be in the war for being at risk for getting it. Living through dangerous events and traumas, getting hurt, seeing someone get seriously injured or killed, even getting in a car accident could put you at risk.

How it arises

The way this disorder arises could be from the war-seeing so many people getting hurt or killed, an accident, being abused,or sometimes from experiencing a natural disaster. PTSD is not a genetic issue and doesn’t like run in the family because if someone in your family has it, that means that they experienced a traumatic event. In order for you or someone else in your family to get it, you would have to experience that kind of trauma too.


To be diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder, a person must have all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom

  • At least three avoidance symptoms

  • At least two hyperarousal symptoms

A doctor sees if the patient has those and if they do, then the doctor diagnoses them with the disorder.

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Signs and symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms are:


-Bad dreams

-Frightening thoughts

Avoidance Symptoms are:

-Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience

-Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry

-Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past

-Feeling emotionally numb

-Having trouble remembering the event.

Hyperarousal Symptoms are:

-Being easily startled

-Feeling tense or “on edge”

-Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts


There are many treatments for this disorder that could help over time. There are three types of psychotherapy you could go to. One is exposure therapy, where you sit down with a therapist and it helps people face and control their fear. The therapist would expose you to the trauma you experienced in a safe way. Another type of therapy that helps is Cognitive restructuring, which helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way. The third type of therapy is Stress inoculation, which helps the patient to reduce anxiety and look at their memories in a healthy way. Other than going to therapy, your doctor could prescribe you medication such as sertraline (Zoloft) or paroxetine (Paxil). Other types of medication they could give you are antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa), which can help people with PTSD feel less tense or sad.


The prognosis for PTSD depends on how severe the condition is and the length of time the person has suffered from it. Most patients diagnosed with it get help by going to the recommended psychotherapy visits. If you are a person that doesn’t get help when needed, then the disorder could continue to cause more and more damage to your brain. Not getting help could increase your anxiety and depression, making suicide at risk for untreated PTSD .


I don’t know of anyone who has this disorder, and my research did not mention anyone famous who has it. I selected this topic because I have heard of it before, but I didn’t know much about it and was curious to what it was. After researching Post-traumatic stress disorder, I’ve learned a lot.
Virtual reality battles PTSD


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Works Cited

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"PTSD in Military Veterans." : Symptoms, Treatment, and the Road to Recovery for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

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