Essay on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Definition, Classic Symptoms, Risk Factors and Causes, Prevention Methods

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects millions of people every day. It can affect everyone and anyone and they don’t have to have served time in the military. It can be a man, women, child, or elderly. In this paper, I will be going over the definition of PTSD, the classic symptoms, risk factors and causes, prevention methods, warning signs, treatments, look further into what is happening in the brain, how to help if you know someone who is going through it, and places to go for help.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder is “a psychological reaction occurring after experiencing a highly stressing event (such as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) that is usually characterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event —abbreviation PTSD.” ** DSM DEFF

The three main classic symptoms that go along with post-traumatic stress disorder are re-experiencing the event, avoidance of reminders of the event, and hyperarousal. Once a person has been experiencing those three symptoms over and over again for at least a month it can be said that a person has post-traumatic stress disorder. To further explain the three main symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, re-experiencing refers to unwanted recollections of the incident in the form of a distressing images, nightmares, or flashbacks. Avoidance is exactly what it sounds like, they are consistent attempts to avoid reminders of the event, including people, places, and thoughts associated with the incident. Symptoms of hyperarousal are physiological manifestations such as insomnia, irritability, impaired concentration, hypervigilance, and increased startle reactions. Those are the three main symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The obvious main cause to post-traumatic stress disorder is going through a traumatic, experience. The experience has to invoke fear, hopelessness, or horror in response to death or injury. The experience is what starts all of the other symptoms. Not every person who experiences a traumatic event gets post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts are not totally sure why some people get post-traumatic stress disorder and others don’t. They believe the chance of getting post-traumatic stress disorder is increased if, they have had depression, anxiety, or substance abuse before the event and also if you do not have good base of support at home or if a person was abused as a child. Another factor that increases a person’s chance of getting post-traumatic stress disorder is if their family has a history of mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental, Health women are more likely to get it than men. There are also certain gene differences that make people more likely to get it than another.

There is no fool proof way of preventing a person from getting post-traumatic stress disorder. There is only particular things that doctors have seen that seem to play somewhat of a role in the deciding factor if a person gets post-traumatic stress disorder or not. One situation that has been seen to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder is if the person has early childhood events that caused them to go out of their comfort zone. Not the comfort zone like deciding to ride a ride at the amusement park that scares them, more like being it a situation that they have never been in before or seeing things haven’t and or shouldn’t see at that age. Because they were put into that situation, they were able to learn adaptability and coping strategies that would help them when they are older and go through a traumatic experience. Some personal characteristic that prevent post-traumatic stress disorder are, being goal-oriented, having a high self-esteem, adaptability, good social skills, and a good sense of humor. Some things that a person can do to prevent is are, seek out support from friends or family, find a support group, or learn to feel good about their action in the face of danger. In the military, soldiers are now exposed to hypothetical traumatic events during basic training to teach them coping mechanisms.

There are warning signs and symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder. Not every single person with post-traumatic stress disorder will have every single one of the listed symptoms for PTSD but they will have a majority of them. Like I said earlier in this paper there is hyperarousal, re-experiencing the incident, and avoidance of reminder, but there are many more than just that. Some common symptoms are difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep/nightmares being easily startled, increased hostility, abnormal outbursts, and being ashamed of the situation. Another important warning sign to watch for is self-medication. Whether that is with misusing medication, alcohol, drugs, or many other things. These are all many signs that can collectively point towards someone having post-traumatic stress disorder.

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There is no set in stone treatment to cure post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not totally curable because you never know what could trigger a person and have it happen all over again. There are many ways doctors try to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, like psychotherapy which is where they focus on the trauma itself. During therapy, they talk about the trauma and what happened while trying to make sense of it. There is also exposure therapy. Exposure therapy can be divided into two main types imaginal and in vivo exposures. In vivo take on the fears head on through direct confrontation. During imaginal exposure, therapists ask patients to imagine the places or people that they might fear because of the experience. Another one is stress inoculation therapy. SIT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Which is mostly talking based, they talk about the event, help patients recognize and change negative or wrong thoughts that they might be having. Lastly, there is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. It is exposure-based. Therapist and patient choose which memory to target first then the therapist moves their hand back and forth in front of their face. Then the patient follows it with their eyes. This creates movement similar to what happens in REM sleep. Then the thoughts and recollections begin to arise and they start to process the memories and feelings. During that they shift the thoughts to be more positive. Those are not the only treatment types for post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many many more than just the ones I have talked about. Even though they’re all different types of treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder it is not curable. The memory could spontaneously recover at any time.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very stressful disorder, as it has stress in the name. The stress response areas in the brain are the amygdala, hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause changes in those areas. When a person experiences traumatic stress there is an increase in norepinephrine and cortisol, which are both produced from the adrenal cortex. Antidepressants have been seen to counteract the levels of the norepinephrine and cortisol. One of the most affected areas in the brain is the hippocampus, it goes through a serious reduction when someone gets PTSD. This causes them to have a hard time deciphering between the past and the present memories and correctly interpret environmental context. The neural mechanisms in that part of the brain and trigger extreme stress responses when it encounters something even a little bit similar to their traumatic experience. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for how you react to emotional stressors which is triggered by the amygdala. In particular, is reacts to negative emotions more than positive ones. An example would be fear. The functionality of the region is what is effected. That explains why people with PTSD become fearful, show anxiety, and lots of amounts of stress to something that might not even be related to their experience. When it come to the amygdala activity is increased in that area. This area is also associated with the processing of emotions. When people with PTSD see something that reminds them of their trauma the amygdala is hyperactive. Sometimes even if they see something not associated with their stressor they will begin to freak out an example would be, if they see a picture of people in fear they would also begin to then it would continue on from there. All three of these parts of the brain are associated with dealing with stress and conveniently, they are the three main area post-traumatic stress disorder effects.

Many people may know someone who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. What they may not know is what to do about it or how to act. The first thing someone could do it learn about post-traumatic stress disorder and their trauma. Although, you do not want to ask them directly about their trauma. If they do talk to you about what they have gone through listen, be attentive. If you’re not able to give them your full attention then don’t talk to them at that time. If you are able to give them your full attention do not interrupt them, do not try to compare their experience with something that has happened to you, do not play the expert, do not judge them for their thoughts you actions, do not tell them what to do or what they need to do. Also don’t allow them to be inappropriate. Always report if they are having suicidal thoughts or actions no matter what the person suffering says, it is always helpful. As a friend, someone could make sure the person suffering knows that they have option and if they could show them that would be even better. The friend should set limits for themself about what they’re willing to help with and what they are not. The friend should also really make an effort to understand what they are going through. They also should not expect them to be better within any certain time frame, no one knows how long it will take to effectively manage a person’s post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the most important things is to be positive!

There are many places you can go for help and information. For veterans, there is the Wounded Warrior Project. There is also the National Center for PTSD, Gifts from WIthin, the Anxiety and Depression Association, The International Society for Traumatic Studies, and the PTSD Alliance. They are all very good places to go if someone is looking for help or information on PTSD. They are all very reliable and helpful.

30% of people in the military that have been in a war zone have post-traumatic stress disorder. 12-20% of soldiers serving in Iraq are estimated to have it. Almost half of everyone who served in Vietnam had experienced some type of PTSD. It was previously called shell shock during World War II.

During the essay I have gone over the definition of PTSD, the classic symptoms, risk factors and causes, prevention methods, warning signs, treatments, look further into what is happening in the brain, how to help if you know someone who is going through it, and places to go for help. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects millions everyday and will continue to for a long time to come. There is continuing research going on to truly understand what is going on inside. Hopefully once that is totally understood a cure will be shortly followed behind it.

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Essay on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Definition, Classic Symptoms, Risk Factors and Causes, Prevention Methods. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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