Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by carol spencer on September 4th, 2019

The DSM-IV-TR classifies post-traumatic stress disorder as an anxiety disorder. It is a disorder that affects a person’s memory, nervous system, and emotions. PTSD is not just another anxiety problem. The DSM-IV-TR classification distinguishes it from other mental and anxiety problems by establishing the criteria for diagnosis. The disorder occurs when someone has experienced a highly traumatic experience. People who suffer from this disorder usually avoid situations that will remind them of the event. They relive their experiences through flashbacks and nightmares. Prolonged exposure to such experiences will worsen the disorder, leading to long lasting symptoms. PTSD is different from other disorders because its diagnosis depends on outside stressors. As well, it's one of the most popular medical research paper topicsThe DSM-IV-TR classification identifies different stressors, and they include witnessing, experiencing, or being confronted with events, which might involve threatened or actual death or serious injury, or events, which may be a threat to a person’s physical integrity. Someone who has experienced such traumatic events experiences feelings of helplessness, intense fear, and horror. Children may have different experiences and they will show these experiences through agitated behavior.

Causative Factors

A person develops post-traumatic stress disorder when he or she faces trauma. Experiences of trauma are different for different individuals. For some people, trauma develops after facing extremely dangerous and life threatening situations such as war. For other people, their level of experiencing trauma might not seem as dangerous. Such people may experience trauma when they are involved in an accident, or when they experience sexual assault such as rape. Other life threatening situations, such as experiences in kidnappings, exposure to terrorist attacks and natural disasters, being mugged or robbed, and experiencing torture, among others can be causes of trauma. Individuals who have undergone such experiences may sometimes find it hard to recover from them.


The DSM-IV-TR identifies several diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorders. The physician has to identify traumatic stressors. The patient must have experienced a traumatic event, and elicited emotional response characterized by intense fear and horror. The patient should show intrusive symptoms, which include flashbacks, hallucinations, daydreams, and nightmares related to the event. A person’s thoughts are often related to the events. The patient experiences these symptoms as if he was experiencing the events again. The physician identifies avoidance symptoms on the patient. The patient avoids anything related to the event, including any place, or any person that will remind him of the event. The patient avoids talking about the events, and he or she avoids developing any feelings related to the traumatic event. He or she is unable to remember some aspects of the events. The person losses interest in many activities, even the activities that he or she used to enjoy before the traumatic event happened. The person feels disconnected from others, and tries to detach himself from others, even from those who love him.

PTSD patients experience psychic numbing. He or she will try anything to forget the event or to help in numbing the pain. For this reason, some sufferers of PTSD end up using drugs and other substances, which they perceive will help them deal with the pain, and in forgetting the events. Some patients often feel that they do not have anything to look forward to in their lives. They avoid developing any long-term commitments because they do not envision their future. Because of this, some of them will not even bother looking for a job or make any decisions regarding their future. The patients are not able to hold jobs or commit to relationships. Physicians have to check whether the patients are hyper aroused. PTSD affects the nervous symptoms and the patients are always alert as they lookout for danger. Patients have a difficult time concentrating on anything, they develop insomnia, and they are irritable. Patients are hyper vigilant and they have an extreme or exaggerated startle response. The patients continue experiencing these symptoms, years after they have experienced the traumatic events. The diagnosing physician has to check the length of time that the patient has experienced the symptoms. For patients to have PTSD diagnosis, they should have experienced the symptoms for at least one month. This is important because some patients with acute stress disorder experience similar symptoms, but they only last for a shorter time, usually between two to four weeks. Cases of dual diagnosis in patients with PTSD tend to be fairly common because the symptoms of the disorder are similar to symptoms of other anxiety and mood disorders. It is important for the diagnosing physician to examine the symptoms carefully, as this will increase the chances of finding the most effective way to treat the disorder.


The kind of treatment offered differs in different people. In most cases, the person who undergoes treatment is able to overcome his or her problems, and deal with the disorder. However, in some cases, individuals end up receiving treatment for the disorder for many years. Therapy is an effective treatment option for PTSD. Sufferers can opt for group therapy or individual therapy to help them deal with the disorder. Some people opt for support groups. They are encouraged to share their experiences with other people who have undergone similar experiences. This enables them to feel and know that they are not suffering alone. Most therapists prefer using cognitive behavior therapy and psychodynamic therapy or prolonged exposure therapy, as treatment options for the patients. By using cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapists encourage the patients to talk about their traumatic experiences. Therapists use this form of therapy because it encourages them to target the patients’ behavior. They hope to change the patients thought patterns. A person’s thoughts ultimately affect the way that he or she behaves. If the patient keeps focusing on the tragic and traumatic events, which happened, then he will reflect this in his behavior. Through cognitive processing therapy, the therapists help the patients to get rid of erroneous and false thoughts. Cognitive therapists also teach patients to deal with anxiety problems without the use of medication.

Therapists also use psychodynamic psychotherapy together with cognitive behavioral therapy. The prolonged exposure therapy enables the therapists to examine the patients’ current life situation, in an attempt to find out if there is anything that could be contributing to worsening of the symptoms or enhancing the patients’ ability to remember the traumatic experiences. This form of therapy is controlled, as it involves exposing the patient to a stressful situation. As the patient recalls the events, he is able to have a clearer picture of the events and is able to face the reality that he has been avoiding. Some physicians recommend medication for the patients, especially those suffering from depression and anxiety. They usually recommend antidepressants to help the patients deal and manage their depression. Some of the antidepressants that doctors recommend include zoloff and paxil.

Current Research on PTSD

Current research on post-traumatic stress disorder focuses on trying to find the most effective treatment of the condition. This is because therapists have not been able to identify a type of treatment, which will ensure that patients heal completely from the disorder. Although many patients experience full recovery after therapy, some patients tend to take many years before their full recovery, and for others, they stay with their condition for the rest of their lives. This has compelled doctors to try to identify which combination of treatment is most effective for the treatment. Doctors are also conducting research on the patient’s brain to determine why people tend to hold on to memories regarding traumatic events. According to research, a person who is under stress releases hormones, which stimulate the neurons involved in the learning and memory process. This study will lead to the development of treatment research, which will enable the doctors to target the brain. This research will lead the doctors to develop research that will be more effective for patients suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder. They will be able to develop a medication that will smoothen the patients’ memory and thought process.

Current research on post-traumatic stress disorder seeks to examine the relationship between PTSD and heart disease among the war veterans. The available research indicates that PTSD causes or increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The researchers conducted their studies by examining Vietnam War veterans who did not have heart disease before the war. Based on the results of the research, the researchers concluded that PTSD is a cause of heart disease. More researchers are developing these studies because of their significance. The research suggests the importance of diagnosing PTSD among those in the military to prevent any chances of increasing the development of heart disease.

Many patients have suffered because of PTSD. However, continued research has helped to save many patients since it has enabled the patients to find ways of dealing with their trauma. It is not possible to prevent traumatic events from happening. This is because issues such as war and natural disasters are hard to prevent. Because of this, much research is needed to find ways of dealing with the disorder. It is necessary to find ways of ensuring that the patients do not continue to suffer when they encounter trauma.

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carol spencer

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carol spencer
Joined: September 4th, 2019
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