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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of several medical conditions and psychological signs that deal with stress and anxiety. Compared to other mental illnesses that can force a genetic pre-disposition, posttraumatic stress disorder has absolutely nothing to do with genetics but is brought on by previous experiences. Thousands of people deal with posttraumatic stress disorder each year.

Anyone can experience trauma and suffer from PTSD . Trauma might be the death of a loved one or parent, war, major disaster (a fatal accident that causes brain injury, tornado, killings or school attack), rape, child abuse, or any type of abuse. Approximately 5% of men and 10% of women will suffer from PTSD at some stage in their life. Conversely, 10% of Gulf War Veterans, 30% of Vietnam veterans, and 15% of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans have been detected to have PTSD. 

PTSD can become a complicated disorder to live with and treat because it often precipitates other conditions such as depression, anxiety, extreme fear, feelings of loss of control, anger, and guilt, which in turn can lead to amnesia, nightmares, and even personality changes.  

How to Recognize PTSD

The symptoms and signs must persist for more than one month for a PTSD medical diagnosis. If these signs and symptoms last less than one month, then they might be symptoms of acute stress disorder. The amount of time between the traumatic event and the onset of symptomsdo not erase the potential for PTSD or make the experiences or emotions any less valid. The length of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms similarly does not invalidate the intensity of the illness, or the events witnessed. DSM-IV defines severe posttraumatic stress disorder as lasting not more than three months, chronic posttraumatic stress disorder as lasting more than three months, and delayed-onset posttraumatic stress disorder as when symptoms of PTSD take place six months or more after the trauma. The most common symptoms include:

• Hypervigilance

• Reliving the experience

• Nightmares

• Feeling distant from friends and family

Triggers Effect

An individual can control the indications of PTSD—to an extent. If a trigger occurs, it is likely that a flood of thoughts and the symptoms are close. A trigger is any sound, smell or sight that links back to the actual traumatic event. Triggers might include crackling wood sound from the fireplace, firecrackers, screeching car wheels, or the fire itself. Any trigger has a prospect for causing the symptoms of PTSD to surface. When a door slams and the startling impact becomes evident, signs will follow. Minor triggers (crackling wood, door slamming) may bring a lesser degree of this disorder. However, if the trigger has a close resemblance to the real event, flashbacks could occur. With the flashback comes the belief that the actual event is taking place again.

Charting the Course

Posttraumatic stress disorder runs a course that differs widely among those affected and does not affect everyone who witnesses a horrible incident or becomes the victim of a violent act. Within 90 days of the event, PTSD signs and symptoms usually occur. However, there are situations where PTSD erupted several years after the actual event. Medications with certain counseling procedures are quite helpful in treating the indications of posttraumatic stress disorder before it has a severe effect on mental health. A flare of PTSD may introduce additional problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, or depression. It could also initiate symptoms and signs related to another/several of the primary anxiety disorders.

 Treatment methods include:

• Exposure therapy - exposure to the event will help you to understand it is no longer life-threatening

• Relaxation therapy - breathing deeply and other relaxation practices

• Support organizations - helps the victim realize they are not alone.

• Cognitive therapy - scary thoughts are restored with more realistic thinking that can enhance mental health

• Medication - the most common drugs prescribed are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs) and are often combined with the temporary use of tranquilizers


Recovery may take less than six months. However, in some individuals, the disorder continues forever. Posttraumatic stress disorder can become a chronic condition.

If you think your loved one or you may be going through PTSD, then get in touch with a medical professional who can get you started  on a treatment plan and if required, introduce you to a specialist in this  disorder. 


Author: Lakecia Hammond, Contributing Writer