People affected by various natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis), transportation accidents, war or acts of violence specifically against them (robbery, rape, concentration camps, prisons) have experienced profound psychological distress. Long-term response to such events is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thus, the main aim of this project is to discuss PTSD with more details.
At the beginning of this project it is important to mention that post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe reaction to a traumatic event that goes beyond ordinary human experience, which would be almost a shock to anyone – such as a serious accident, natural disaster, assault, rape, participation in military operations, etc. Observing the biological basis of PTSD, it is possible to note that sometimes a standard reserve of the psyche is not sufficient to cope with stressful experiences. These disorders are common among veterans of wars and combatants, but can also occur in civilian survivors of various disasters. Moreover, PTSD may develop in one or a few weeks after an emergency situation. In some cases, the symptoms of PTSD fade with the time and may disappear altogether, while in others they persist for many years, and then can join to them the symptoms of other psychiatric disorders such as depression, alcoholism, drug addiction.
Observing the video, typically, PTSD develops within the first three months after the injury, but sometimes it happens that disorders are manifested in many months and years. Basing on this fact and specific features of PTSD, psychiatrists are divided specific symptoms of PTSD into the four main groups: obsessive-compulsive disorder, avoidance, symptoms of irritability and nonspecific symptoms.
For instance, the soldiers diagnosed with PTSD may exhibit the symptoms in different ways. The memory suddenly come up horrible, nasty scenes connected with their experiences. It seems that every hint (anything that might recall the event: some sight, smell, sound) extracts pictures and images of traumatic events from the depths of memory. The soldiers mention that their consciousness appears double: the person feels oneself both in a peaceful manner, and in a place where the events took place at the same time. There is a sense of emotional dependence, narrowing of consciousness, a feeling of ‘here and there’. There is a heightened startle response to sudden or loud noise. Such phenomena are called ‘flash backs’, they cause strongly pronounced distress; physiological responses to stimuli are either associated with the trauma. These unexpected, ‘uninvited’ memories can last from a few seconds or minutes to several hours. As a consequence, the person is experiencing a great stress again.
In addition, ‘uninvited’ memories come in a dream in the form of nightmares; sometimes, like video recording, reproducing the traumatic situation, and the person is experiencing own reaction to the traumatic situation with a frightening accuracy. He wakes up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath, with pounding heart, tense muscles, feeling completely overwhelmed. Sometimes sleep disturbances seen as a permanent early awakening, causing fatigue and apathy.
According to Vasterling and Brewin (2005), epidemiological studies show that PTSD is correlated with susceptibility to certain physiological and mental disorders, which arise as a consequence of injury, or exist originally. These violations include: neurosis anxiety, depression, tendency to suicidal thoughts or attempts, alcohol or drug addiction, psychosomatic disorders, diseases of the cardiovascular system. In addition, a special problem for patients diagnosed with PTSD is a high rate of suicides or suicide attempts.
The intensity of the traumatic situation is a risk factor for PTSD. Other risk factors include: low levels of education, social status, mental health problems prior to the traumatic event, the presence of close relatives suffering from psychiatric disorders, chronic stress. The big importance is also given to personal vulnerability, the ability of individuals to cope with an event which is regarded as a vital disaster.
Manifestations of PTSD have a strong influence on patients’ mental functions and require medical treatment undoubtedly. Both methods of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapeutic methods occupy a significant place in the treatment of PTSD. The main purpose of working with patients is to return them to the level of functioning, which they had before the injury. This does not mean that person will be the same as he was before the injury; of course, the patients often want to achieve exactly such condition. Trauma destroyed their implicit picture of the world, so they need some additional inner resources, or more flexible behavioral and cognitive reactions to better withstand the stress, when they will face the traumatic experiences again. Only in this case, one would hope that patients will be able to coping with the future stress. That is, the goal is to help the individual to follow the road of an adaptive resolution of traumatic situations.
The military is disturbed about the different ways of treatment of PTSD among its personnel, and various military hospitals provide people both medical and psychiatric treatment. It is a fact that the treatment of PTSD usually involves psychotherapy. Information about disease helps the person to control the manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder, and discuss the change of the situation – these are the usual methods that are used in therapy for this disorder. In the process of psychotherapy, individual perceives post-traumatic stress disorder, as a kind of stress, not as a weakness, which increases the likelihood that people with this disorder, feeling a shame, can learn to minimize it. There exist an intensive seven week program for people with severe PTSD, but sometimes it is not enough for many people. It also seems that a family can be of a great value for the person diagnosed with PTSD in treating this disease.
Thus, taking everything into account it is possible to conclude that we have discussed PTSD with many necessary details, dwelling on the specificity of its symptoms and the way of their treatment.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
Vasterling, J. and Brewin, C. (2005). Neuropsychology of PTSD: Biological, Cognitive, and Clinical Perspectives. Guilford Press.