American Military University
Abstract Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that effects not just war torn military veterans, but can affect anyone at any age that experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. The diagnosis for this disorder is becoming easier to recognize and the prognosis for recovery from PTSD is simple on paper, yet proving to be a tough task due to the toll that it can take on not just the person that has PTSD, but on the sufferers family, friends and others.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur at an age in life. PTSD was originally brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from experiencing or witnessing serious accidents, torture, murders, natural disasters, terrorist acts or physical or sexual assaults among others. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2014) says that women are more likely to develop PTSD than men and that the disorder may run in the family. What makes PTSD different than the average stress is that in normal situations the person return to normal after a little while. When the stress reactions do not go away on their own or get worse, that is the beginning of PTSD. The brain is a complex structure and researchers think that it holds some of the answers on how to deal with, if not defeat PTSD. There are still people suffering from PTSD that occurred during the Vietnam war and that was 40 years ago. There are three symptoms that have been identified that people with PTSD may display as an indicator that they are suffering from PTSD.
The three types of categories that have been named as symptoms of PTSD. They are re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance and numbing symptoms, and arousal symptoms.
Re-experiencing is reliving the event. There are a lot of ways that people may relive the trauma they experienced. They can have saddening memories of the traumatic event which can come back at times when they are not expecting them. Driving in a car and hearing a backfire or driving through a tunnel can spark someone’s PTSD. Other examples are a rape victim watching the news and seeing something about a sexual assault or watching a love scene in a movie. These flashbacks are difficult for the sufferer and cause them to relive the moment. NIMH (2014) says that re-experiencing can cause bad dreams, racing heart, sweating and disrupt a persons everyday routine.
Avoidance and numbing is another symptom where something reminds a person of the traumatic event so they change their routine to avoid the trauma (NIMH, 2014). For example, after surviving or witnessing a drowning, the person avoids swimming pools, the beach and even taking baths. The numbing part of this symptom is feeling emotionally numb to activities, people and events that they enjoyed before the event happened. Sometimes it is not the victim of the trauma who is affected. A fathers seven year old daughter was molested by a close family member who lived in the home and now the father avoids leaving his daughter around any male.
Arousal symptoms is when people with PTSD are on constant alert. It is increased emotional arousal which leads to difficulty falling asleep, outbursts of irritability or anger, and the inability to concentrate.
Each person’s PTSD symptoms are different, but in children the symptoms may include bedwetting, forgetting how or being unable to talk, acting out the event in school or play, and being clingy with the parent or another adult.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA, 2014) 7.7 million Americans age 18 and older have PTSD. 67% of the people who were exposed to mass violence have been shown to develop PTSD at a higher rate than those whose trauma was experienced from natural disasters or other traumatic events. The results of a study done by McLay, R. N., Mantanona, C., Ram, V.,