Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced under the mental health nomenclature in the year 1980 along with the manual of APA's (American Psychiatric Association's) statistics and diagnostics. Symptoms that occur in response to a particular stressor, however, have existed for centuries and have been referred to by terms such as nerve trauma hypothesis, shell shock, and stress response syndrome. An individual suffering from PTSD must is exposed to a traumatic event, including but not necessarily restricted to combat, that is outside the realm of ordinary experience to meet the criteria for PTSD. Consequently, PTSD and the recently included diagnosis of acute stress disorder are distinctive in the DSM system because, unlike the majority of DSM diagnoses, the causal origin of these disorders is explicitly delineated in the diagnostic criteria (Falsetti, 2008).

The trauma criteria now specify that the affected person has to experience, witness, or be confronted with events, which may include one or more of the situations such as injury, actual or threatened death, and/or threat to the physical integrity of oneself or of others. Further, the person may also experience fear of anything (Davis, 2000).

Discussion and Analysis

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) consists of three symptoms that are interrelated to each other: re-experiencing, numbing, and hyper arousal. These symptoms develop after an individual experiences a traumatic event (Friedman, 2004). Traumatic events can include events that one actually experienced or events that one witnessed. Examples of traumatic events include physical or sexual assault and abuse, combat, natural disasters, terrorism, and serious illness. It has been mentioned in the criteria for PTSD of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for an individual to develop PTSD, the person have to respond to the traumatic event with feelings of intense fear, helplessness, and/or horror. In addition, to differentiate PTSD from temporary reactions to traumatic experiences, the individual also has to report experiencing symptoms of PTSD for at least 1 month, although in many instances symptoms can persist for years (Frueh, 1998).

Adolescents and PTSD

Re-experiencing symptoms include recurrent unwanted thoughts, dreams, or memories of the trauma. Re-experiencing symptoms in children with PTSD may include engaging in play that involves traumatic themes or having frightening dreams without specific traumatic content. In adolescents, re-experiencing symptoms may include re-enacting the trauma in their behaviors (for example, sexual acting out behavior in an adolescent who experienced sexual abuse). Some individuals also experience reliving phenomenon, which can include the sense that the trauma is re-occurring, illusions, hallucinations, or flashbacks. Avoidance symptoms include avoidance of reminders of the trauma including trauma-related thoughts, places, and activities, and conversations about the trauma. Some individuals may have amnesia that has no physiological basis for important aspects of the trauma. Hyper arousal symptoms include insomnia, irritability, anger, hyper vigilance to danger cues, and an exaggerated startle response (Keane, 2000).

Limited research examining the prevalence of PTSD is available in developing countries. Not surprisingly, research that has been conducted examining the occurrence of PTSD in developing countries, particularly countries with high levels of conflict or oppressive regimes, has found high-prevalence rates of this ...
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