Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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Today society is riddled with events that are out of ones control. Events, whether they be
natural or man made, can be extremely traumatic and in many instances can trigger the onset of a
common anxiety disorder known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Upon further
research into this disorder a direct correlation can be made between traumatic events and
symptoms that occur as a result.
Many people who are involved in traumatic events have a difficult time adjusting.
In many cases, however, the symptoms can get progressively worse, sometimes, even
completely disrupting ones life. Although the symptoms and degrees of severity may differ
from case to case the effect can still be life altering.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the only psychiatric condition in the DSM-IV that requires a specific event to have occurred as a criterion for the diagnosis (Saskia, S.L. et al., 2005). Symptoms of PTSD can include but are not limited to flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time, shame or guilt, upsetting dreams about the traumatic event, trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, feeling emotionally numb, irritability or anger, poor relationships, self-destructive behavior, hopelessness about the future, trouble sleeping, memory problems, trouble concentrating, not enjoying activities you once enjoyed, and hearing or seeing things that arent there. (Kolk, McFarlane, Waisaeth 26-45).
Chief complaints in patients who have been diagnosed with PTSD include 2 major symptoms: Anxiety which causes an abnormal reaction to loud noises and difficulty sleeping due to repeated nightmares.
“Exaggerated startle is reputed to be one of the cardinal symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. This symptom was more notable in victims of severe trauma and was accompanied by anxiety and fear of a repeat situation (Grillion, C.A. et al., 1995.)
Difficulty sleeping due to nightmares was another of the symptoms reported by patients with PTSD. Nightmares associated with PTSD can be extremely troubling symptoms. They appear to rise from light sleep or a disrupted REM sleep (Raskind, M et al., 2003.) According to this journal the drug Prazosin, when administered to patients, saw improvement in several outcomes. The drug diminished nightmares, disturbances in sleep, and also helped in the overall symptomatology: including re-experiencing hyper arousal and avoidance. The article states that upon discontinuation of the drug all of the patients suffered a return of the nightmares.
Treatment for PTSD is based upon the severity and symptoms of the person. Modern medicine has made many advances in psychological theories and applications used to diagnose and treat PTSD. One article suggest that exposure therapy along with individual therapy was a means for treating patients that were diagnosed with PTSD. The patients were gradually confronted with anxiety provoked trauma-related images and situations. Exposure generally lasted between 20-60min and each step was completed when the patient habituated to the trauma cues. The goal of this therapy was to diminish PTSD symptoms to a non-clinical level. These forms of therapy accompanied by proper medications may be an effective treatment for PTSD symptomatology (Paunovic, N et al., 2000).
Based on the DSM-IV the following were classified as traumatic events: accidents, robbery, sudden death of a loved one (murder or suicide) physical and sexual assault as a child or an adult, disaster, war, witness to violence. Burglary with or without confrontation, relational problems, problems with work or study, chronic illness