Overview of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. Symptoms include: recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma, sleep problems, irritability, anger, poor concentration, blackouts and a phobia of places, people and experiences that remind the sufferer of the trauma.

Some people develop PTSD after they experience a dangerous event, have a scary experience or suffer a shock. When a person has PTSD, they feel under threat or at risk, even when there is no obvious danger.

PTSD is not a new disorder, as people have been suffering trauma in some form or another for all of human history. For example, some would argue that King Henry IV displays symptoms of the disorder in Shakespeare's plays. In the 1700s, a doctor named Josef Leopold from Austria attempted to describe what he termed "nostalgia" in soldiers. In the late 1800s, the writer Charles Dickens witnessed a train accident and would go on to experience symptoms including anxiety and insomnia.

During World War I, the term "shell shock" was used to describe what is now better described as PTSD. By World War II, shell shock was replaced with the term "Combat Stress Reaction." The phrase "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" didn't appear until the 1980s, with the publication of the third volume of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Depending on the person, PTSD can develop right after a trauma. However, it can also develop months or even years later. The symptoms of the condition are usually grouped into several categories. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you need to experience at least one of each type of symptom and need to have those symptoms for at least a month.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder, known colloquially as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder caused by the experience of traumatic events. Combat, car accidents and abuse are just a few examples of events that can lead to PTSD. A person has PTSD if the initial reaction to the stress of these events, which includes fear, nausea, dizziness, depression and/or sleep disturbances, lasts for several weeks or more. The symptoms can last for decades.

The three main characteristics of PTSD are re-living of traumatic events, increased arousal and avoidance. Re-living can manifest as flashbacks or nightmares and may be triggered by reminders of the events, which leads to avoidance of those reminders. Increased arousal is a state of hyper vigilance, which can manifest as paranoia. These PTSD behaviors and experiences are often accompanied by acute anxiety, nausea, avoidance of activities that were once commonplace, anger, self-medicating and relationship sabotage.

PTSD can be alleviated or eliminated with cognitive behavioral therapy, but it is not always successful. While therapy can help some people with PTSD, it's not always an effective treatment. For example, prolonged exposure, one form of CBT, often has a 20 percent drop-out rate at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.

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