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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects people who have experienced a dangerous or traumatic event. At one time, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was known as ‘shell shock,’ and occurred in men and woman who had been through battle. Today, we know that there are other events that can cause this condition such as: rape, serious accident, sudden death of family member, a natural disaster, physical abuse, neglect etc.” (Newton, 596) It is important to know that not everyone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has experienced a traumatic event. Some people get it after a family member is harmed. Therefore, a better name for this condition is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because all these experiences can obviously be stressful.
“During a dangerous event, it is natural to feel afraid. This causes split-second changes in the body. The body becomes prepared to either defend it self or avoid the danger. This is called the ‘fight or flight response.’ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when this response has been damaged.” (“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” N) The cause of this damage is unknown.
There are many symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These symptoms are classified into three groups: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and hyperarousal symptoms.
Re-experiencing symptoms or better known as intrusive symptoms consist of:
Flashbacks-a person relives the trauma over and over including physical changes like increased heartbeat or increased perspiration.
Sleep Disorders such as nightmares.
Intense distress when the original event is mentioned.
These symptoms can cause problems in a person’s everyday life. Re-experiencing symptoms can be triggered by: a person’s thoughts or feelings, words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event.
“Avoidance symptoms are attempts by the person to refrain from dealing with the original event.”(Newton, 597) They include:
Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience.
Feeling emotionally numb.
Feeling strong guilt depression or worry.
Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past.
Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic experience can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change their normal routine.
Hyperarousal symptoms are obvious changes in a person’s mental state. They include:
Being easily startled
Feeling tense or “on edge”
Having difficulty sleeping.
Angry outbursts or violence.
These symptoms are usually constant as opposed to being triggered. They can make a person feel stressed or angry. These symptoms usually make it difficult to complete daily tasks.
There are other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that are specifically found in children and teens. These include:
Memory or attention problems.
Increased dependency on other people.
In order to be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a person must have the following symptoms for at least one month:
At least one re-experiencing symptom.
At least three avoidance symptoms.
At least two hyperarousal symptoms.
Anyone can get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at any age. “However, not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event will get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It all depends on the individual.” (“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” A)
Treatment for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder usually consists of psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) or medication. Maybe even both. It all depends on the individual. A treatment that works for someone may not work for someone else which is why it is important for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to know about all the possible treatments.
Before treatment can begin, any ongoing problems must be stopped. Ongoing problems include: physical abuse, substance abuse, depression, feeling suicidal, or maybe even ongoing verbal abuse. If these problems are not solved, it will be harder for the person to make progress with there treatment. If you know anyone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the best thing you can do for them is support them and help them think positivley about life. The most important thing you can do is, never ignore the person’s comments about him or her harming themselves. Look for signs of sucide and always report these comments immedatley to the person’s doctor.