Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
by: Trevor Dumbleton
For those who experience it, post-traumatic stress disorder can be an incredibly debilitating disease that can prevent you from living a full life. This disorder can bring back moments of severe stress so clearly that it is almost as though you are reliving the moment all over again.
First diagnosed in war veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder was initially named "shell shock" then "battle fatigue". However, by the time of the conflict in Vietnam, it was given the name "post-traumatic stress disorder" (PTSD) in order to give a clearer idea of what exactly is at work. As well, it is not only found in war veterans. In fact, it can be seen in people who were abused as children, rape victims, people who have to clean up after disaster, or anyone else who has undergone severe stress at any point in their lives.
Unfortunately, the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is still in its infancy. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists are still coming to grips with the disease and its causes and effects, but they are learning new things constantly.
In a strictly biochemical sense, PTSD has its root causes at the moment of stress itself. It seems that at moments of extreme stress, the biochemical system in charge of adjusting to stress is reset, like a computer. It is as though the system is so overloaded that it has to shut itself down and restart. Unfortunately, this also causes the mind to quickly return to that moment when it had to start and stop, which can cause flashbacks to the moments when the shock occurred.
The other results of post-traumatic stress disorder include anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, memory problems including amnesia, or any of a host of other mental disorders. Unfortunately, many of these disorders are treated individually without concern for the root cause. This is particularly worrisome because approximately 3.6% of adults between the ages of 18 and 54 are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the vast majority of them go undiagnosed and untreated. As well, women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD after a sudden shock.
For those who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, there are some ways to treat it. The most common form of treatment is through psychotherapy. A therapist has several tools at his or her disposal and can work with the sufferer to root out the causes of the disorder and help cure it. As well, a psychiatrist is the best person to talk to in order to actually diagnose PTSD in the first place, helping the sufferer to at least understand what is happening. Knowing what is wrong is the first step to curing it, after all.
Group treatment is also effective, as it allows people to talk about their feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or depression with others who feel the same way. This allows people to get comfortable with one another and talk about their feelings openly and honestly. By getting the issues out in the open, it almost spreads it out and allows the trauma to dissipate by opening it up to other people.
However, there are some medications that can be used to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Mostly, these drugs are used to treat some of the symptoms of PTSD, such as depression or anxiety, allowing the sufferer to at least alleviate the condition. Most of these drugs take some time to work before they actually show results so, if you have been put onto medication for PTSD, give it a few weeks before you start expecting relief.
However, studies have shown that the best way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder is to nip it in the bud shortly after the trauma has occurred. The usual method is to sit down with someone who has suffered a trauma about 3-10 days after the trauma occurred. This will allow the feelings to be fresh, while it also helps people relieve the trauma by bringing it out before it hides itself in the mind. There has been some success with this sort of treatment, though it does require the trauma to be recognized early.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a surprisingly common disorder that often goes unnoticed and untreated. However, with improvements in therapy and medication, there is new hope for those who suffer from this debilitating disorder.