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Key Information About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Srikanth strongly believes that prevention is better than cure. He is of the opinion that awareness is a key to prevent diseases.

Overview

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

An estimated 3.6 percent of the world's population suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder in 2012.

The difference between regular PTSD and complex PTSD is that traditional PTSD is often associ­ated with a moment of trauma.

Sufferers of complex PTSD have undergone continual abuse – trauma that has occurred over a long period of time, over the course of years. Child abuse is a common cause.

key-information-about-posttraumatic-stress-disorder

Types

TypeDescription

Acute PTSD

Symptoms last less than three months

Chronic PTSD

Symptoms last at least three months

Delayed-onset PTSD

Symptoms manifest at least six months following a traumatic event

Causes

As is usually the case with mental health problems, doctors cannot pinpoint why some people develop posttraumatic stress disorder.

Those who have a history of trauma and stress are more likely to develop PTSD than those who do not have a similar history.

While any traumatic event can trigger PTSD symptoms, common traumas that have been linked to this mental illness include:

  • accidents, like car crash
  • natural disasters, like earthquake
  • acts of terrorism
  • violent crimes, like murder
  • physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • neglect
  • house fire
  • exposure to violence in the community
  • suicide of a family member or friend.

Chronic stress increases acyl-ghrelin for years after the initial traumatic stressor exposure in some adolescents.

Those with elevated levels of this blood-based hormone are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Experts say fireworks celebrations and explosions can trigger symptoms for people with this condition.

key-information-about-posttraumatic-stress-disorder

Symptoms

PTSD is characterized by three main types of symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.

Nancy Méndez-Booth, a writer and educator in New Jersey, was diagnosed with PTSD after she delivered a stillborn baby in the winter of 2008.

When she returned home from the hospital, she said she felt as though she had “arrived from Mars”; she got lost in her own apartment building.

She oscillated between numbness, vivid paranoia — she worried the police would arrest her for her son’s death — and bursts of anger.

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She couldn’t differentiate between the past and the present; she kept flashing back to the delivery table. She thought she was experiencing a psychotic break.

Diagnosis

Computerized adaptive assessment tools for veterans with PTSD produced valid screening diagnoses and severity scores, according to study results published in JAMA Network Open in July 2021.

PTSD is a diagnosis that is slowly becoming destigmatised and more studied across the broad spectrum that comes from experiences of trauma.

Treatment

PTSD can be treated. With treatment trauma survivors can feel safe in the world and live happy and productive lives. Hundreds of thousands of veterans who served in the army, marine corps, navy, air force, and coast guard have got treatment for PTSD and found significant relief from their symptoms.

Effective treatments for PTSD include different types of psychotherapy and medication.

Four interventions are strongly recommended, all of which are variations of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The category of CBT encompasses various types and elements of treatment used by cognitive behavioral therapists, while Cognitive Processing Therapy, Cognitive Therapy and Prolonged Exposure are all more specialized treatments that focus on particular aspects of CBT interventions.

In 1987 psychologist Francine Shapiro developed a new type of psychotherapy known as EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

EMDR therapy has become a more common treatment in recent years as a treatment option for people suffering from PTSD.

There is no one medication that treats all the symptoms of PTSD, yet some medications can help with some symptoms and also increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Antidepressants, atypical antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics are used to treat PTSD.

Adding 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) to integrative psychotherapy may significantly improve symptoms and well-being for patients with severe posttraumatic stress disorder, including those with the dissociative subtype.

A recent phase 3 clinical trial found that MDMA, in combination with talk therapy, was significantly more effective than talk therapy alone, in treating this disorder.

Eight million American adults experience PTSD annually, and with limited FDA approved therapies, there is a large unmet medical need.

Post 9/11, mental health experts found that some existing treatments for the condition were doing more harm than good to PTSD victims.

For instance, there was a treatment method known as critical incident stress briefing in which the victims were asked to talk about their experiences. It was found that this method was activating high emotional arousal that would lead to PTSD.

Virtually guided prolonged exposure therapy reduced PTSD symptoms more effectively than prolonged exposure alone in a pilot study of 40 civilians and veterans.

The study was conducted at MUSC, in partnership with the Ralph H Johnson VA Medical Center.

In January 2022, the FDA granted breakthrough device designation to electroCore Inc. for its gammaCore device to be used in the treatment of PTSD in military personnel.

The psychedelic drug MDMA may be an effective treatment for PTSD according to research findings unveiled at the spring meeting (2022) of the American Chemical Society.

Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation could help to treat PTSD and generalised anxiety disorder as it is linked to the brain's response to perceived threats.

Heartfulness PTSD Treatment employs evidence-based practices in a collaborative, client-centred manner, meaning clients always have the freedom to choose which therapeutic approaches fit best.

They often adopt a three-phased (or “triphasic”) model, which has been considered the standard of trauma therapy, although it is important to know that detailed discussion of past traumas is not required or necessarily recommended in some cases.

Newer evidence-based neurobiologically-informed therapies have demonstrated that it is possible to do effective treatment in a gentler manner.

key-information-about-posttraumatic-stress-disorder

Prevention

Ways to prevent PTSD include keeping civilian and military populations out of harm's way and completely eliminating emotional traumas associated with rape, violent crime, or severe accidents. Unfortunately, neither goal is possible to achieve.

Scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis suggest that their findings could lead to more accurate diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

— Catharine Paddock PhD

PTSD and COVID-19

PTSD had a prevalence of 30.2 percent among acute COVID-19 infection survivors, researchers found in a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Psychiatry in March 2021.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

Comments

Srikanth R (author) on April 08, 2019:

Welcome.

Lorna Lamon on April 08, 2019:

This is an interesting article - I treat PTSD and see first-hand just how debilitating this condition can be. Prevention is always better than the cure, however, unfortunately we have a long way to go before we can live in a world where we can all feel safe. Thank you for sharing.

Srikanth R (author) on April 06, 2019:

Thank you.

Srikanth R (author) on April 06, 2019:

True.

Larry Slawson from North Carolina on April 06, 2019:

I agree with Liz. Thank you for sharing. Interesting read.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 06, 2019:

Many years ago, nothing was said of post traumatic stress disorder. It is good that it is more widely recognised and treated these days, but there is still progress to be made.

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