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PTSD Essay

September 24th, 2009

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can lead to psychological problems in many men and women, and especially veterans, due to traumatic events. “Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.” (Insel,2001,1)

This disorder is a relatively new diagnostic. In fact, before the diagnosis, veterans called these symptoms “Shell Shock.” It wasn’t until 1980 that the DSM III made Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) an official psychiatric diagnosis for veterans. Diagnostic Statistic Manual is a book used by the medical profession to diagnose a disorder. In 1994, DSM IV includes people that have been in traumatic events such as combat, sexual and physical assault, being held hostage or imprisonment. After the discovery, psychiatrist’s found out that this disorder affects millions of men and women through out the world. (Davis,2003,1)

Traumatic Events: Symptoms
People with PTSD will have flashbacks that re-experience the event. These flashbacks may be in different types of sensory forms. Usually when a person is experiencing this disorder, they will have a chronic hyper arousal in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This can include jumpiness, rapid breathing, accelerated heart beat, and cold sweating. This can lead to loss of appetite, a bad night sleep and even sexual dysfunctions. (Rothschild,1997,6) Doctors often treat these symptoms without acknowledging that the patient might have post-traumatic stress disorder. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder have a great chance of having major depression, alcohol abuse or dependence, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dysthymia and antisocial personality.

Who it affects
The biggest percentage of people who developed post-traumatic stress order (PTSD) has been in combat war zones. In fact, over one million veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in the war of Vietnam alone. This is very common in war veterans because they have seen traumatic scenes. This disorder can develop three months after the event, or even develop years later after the event. (Insel,2001,5)

Psychological Problems
Studies have shown that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are most likely to commit suicide. An article from Canadian Medical Association Journal talks about the number of suicides committed after a war. (Spooner,20024)It shows, that since the Gulf war, ninety-three British veterans have committed suicide in the last decade. The article says it is hard to find adequate psychiatric care, outside of the military because most psychiatrist’s have a hard time comprehending combat conditions.

There are different treatments for this disorder, such as different types of therapy treatments, that psychiatrist’s have found for people with PTSD. These types of therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and group therapy. “Medications can help ease associated symptoms such as depression and anxiety.” (Insel,2001,7) Studies show that exposure therapy is a good way to re-experience the trauma event under a controlled environment. Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy used to help people who have experienced traumas. The therapy uses careful, repeated and detailed imagining of the trauma in a safe environment.

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