Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By: Haylee Haynes

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened.
  • PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster.
Post-traumatic stress disorder - Intro to Psychology

Causes Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Doctors aren't sure why some people get PTSD. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:

  • Inherited mental health risks, such as an increased risk of anxiety and depression
  • Life experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma you've gone through since early childhood
  • Inherited aspects of your personality — often called your temperament
  • The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress

Symptoms of PTSD

  • PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time.
  • You may have more PTSD symptoms when you're stressed in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

When To See A Doctor

If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional. Get treatment as soon as possible to help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
PTSD - Emerging Science

Treatment For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psychotherapy

Several types of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, may be used to treat children and adults with PTSD. Some types of psychotherapy used in PTSD treatment include:

  • Cognitive therapy. This type of talk therapy helps you recognize the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are keeping you stuck — for example, negative or inaccurate ways of perceiving normal situations. For PTSD, cognitive therapy often is used along with exposure therapy.
  • Exposure therapy. This behavioral therapy helps you safely face what you find frightening so that you can learn to cope with it effectively. One approach to exposure therapy uses "virtual reality" programs that allow you to re-enter the setting in which you experienced trauma.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories and change how you react to traumatic memories.

Treatment For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Medications

Several types of medications can help improve symptoms of PTSD:

  • Antidepressants. These medications can help symptoms of depression and anxiety. They can also help improve sleep problems and concentration. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PTSD treatment.
  • Anti-anxiety medications. These drugs also can improve feelings of anxiety and stress for a short time to relieve severe anxiety and related problems. Because these medications have the potential for abuse, they are not usually taken long term.
  • Prazosin. If symptoms include insomnia or recurrent nightmares, a drug called prazosin (Minipress) may help. Although not specifically FDA-approved for PTSD treatment, prazosin may reduce or suppress nightmares in many people with PTSD.
THIS EMOTIONAL LIFE | PTSD | Treatment | PBS

How To Prevent PTSD

  • After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what's happened.
  • Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt — all are common reactions to trauma.
  • The majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Getting support can help you recover. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort.
  • May mean seeking out a mental health provider for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community.
  • Getting timely help and support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD.
  • Support from others may also help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.