Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that was first recognized in the 1980s, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The disorder is characterized by extreme anxiety and mental stress, accompanied by emotional numbing in other contexts, that arises after experiencing a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly diagnosed in the military, in people who survive natural disasters, in people who lose loved ones, and in abuse victims. If you answer yes to any of the following questions and experience any of the listed symptoms for more than one month, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
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About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that is defined by a set of symptoms including frequent memories and nightmares about a traumatic event, emotional upset at stimuli that symbolize the event, avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, an inability to feel positive emotions, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating. Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) is a unique disorder in that the etiology is included in the diagnostic criteria. In order for a person to have PTSD, that person must have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, and that event must have created emotions of extreme fear and horror. Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, and disorientation. Approximately 1 to 3 percent of the general population has PTSD. Among rape victims and prisoners of war, this number rises to 50 percent. Studies suggest that PTSD and substance abuse disorders are highly comorbid, with the PTSD typically occurring prior to the substance abuse. Individuals with PTSD may experience flashbacks, where they re-live the traumatic event in vivid detail. A 2010 study found that individuals with PTSD may experience episodes of psychosis where they suffer a partial or complete break from reality.
Treatment Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Psychiatrists agree that it is best to treat someone with PTSD as soon as possible following the traumatic event that triggered the symptoms. These interventions allow patients to process the traumatic event and find closure. Treatment generally takes place on an outpatient basis. A cognitive-behavioural strategy involving exposure to trauma-related stimuli, relaxation techniques, and re-contextualization of the event has shown promise among sexual assault survivors. Exposure therapy is a treatment strategy wherein patients re-live the traumatic experience in a controlled environment with a therapist providing psychological counselling. Exposure therapy works by changing the meanings that the aversive stimuli have and by extinguishing the fear response. This form of therapy has proven to be highly effective, but should only be attempted by trained and licensed psychologists. Other promising treatments include relaxation therapy and problem-solving training. Finally, a number of drug therapies have been developed for PTSD patients, including antidepressants and tranquilizers. Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, have shown to have a moderate degree of success.
Post Rehabilitation Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
According to a 2005 meta-analysis of 26 different studies, the recovery rate for PTSD is about sixty-five percent, with people who sought early treatment having the best outcomes. However, it is important to note that major symptoms can recur and minor symptoms may not entirely disappear. Having a strong social support network is a vital part of recovering from PTSD. The recovering patient may find value in connecting with other PTSD sufferers, and hence a support group may be useful. Belonging to social or religious groups, or having family or friends nearby, is generally associated with a positive recovery outcome. The patient may still experience some symptoms from time to time, but just because a person has post-traumatic stress, that does not mean they need to let it become a disorder.
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