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Anxiety Disorders

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after the exposure to a traumatic experience or life event. It is a form of pyschological trauma that overrides an individuals ability to cope. There are three sub-forms of PTSD: acute, chronic, and delayed-onset. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last longer than 30 days, whereas the Acute Stress Disorder is a shorter episode. Acute Stress Disorders are more common than Post-traumatic Stress Disorders, but a Post-traumatic Stress Disorder will have more frequent symptoms. PTSD affects all aspects of life and an inability to cope will prohibit day-to-day functioning. There are varying forms of treatment for different cases and your physician’s diagnosis should reflect the severity of your condition. Remember to communicate well during your diagnosis to ensure the proper treatment. It may seem embarrasing or overwhelming to seek help, but your health is priority number one and there is treatment available to help with this condition.

Signs

There are a number of symptoms associated with PTSD. The underlying factor when diagnosing the condition is the paralyzing affect on day-to-day functioning. The most prevalent symptom is the persistent re-experience of the traumatic event. This can happen in a number of ways: flashbacks, recurring dreams, an intense and inappropriate response to any reminder of the event or traumatic re-experiences. These symptoms can lead to an avoidance of associated stimuli and an emotional numbing which, if persistent, will lead to an inability to cope. A person diagnosed with PTSD may also have little to zero recollection of the trauma. They will avoid certain behaviors and settings and will have a decreased inability for certain basic human emotions and feelings. There are also a number of physiological responses, such as an inability to sleep or problems with concentration and anger. Irritability, outbursts, and an increased startled response can also be linked to PTSD. To classify PTSD, the symptoms must be severe enough to disable all major aspects of life. In addition, symptoms must persist longer than 30 days.

Causes

The official cause of PTSD has yet to be fully understood. Instead, there are a number of explanations as to what may bring about the disorder. The first is a psychological trauma. Common examples are: witnessing or experiencing sexual abuse, witnessing or experiencing physical assault, being exposed to situations involving war, or news of an impending life-threatening illness. Any scenario involving deep fear of helplessness and/or horror could trigger PTSD. Doctors have also discovered evidence which would suggest that PTSD is genetic. The evidence suggests that PTSD is more common in people with a genetically smaller hippocampus, a component of the brain. Most people will encounter serious trauma in their lifetime, but very few will develop PTSD. It is more common for people to experience an Acute Stress Disorder and recover on their own, without seeking medical treatment. Evidence also suggests that childhood trauma, familial stressors and chronic adversity increase a person’s chances of PTSD, especially in adulthood. The effects of a childhood trauma is difficult to calculate but it is evident that it has a direct link to PTSD rates.

Management

There are a number of options available to people struggling with PTSD. Early detection and treatment is always the best prevention against severe PTSD however, treatment will reflect the severity of the illness.

Research has revealed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to be affective in the early stages of detection. In addition, the combination of certain medicine, such as propranolol, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy achieve positive results. The United States Department of Affairs and Department of Defense have cited Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing as the highest-rated effectiveness for the treatment of PTSD. EMDR practices exposure therapy to stored, disturbed memories, to resolve PTSD and other forms of Stress Disorders. There are a number of viable medication available for more severe cases of PTSD however, there isn’t one clear drug treatment. There are some serious side affects associated with certain medication (avoidance, withdrawal), therefore 6-8 week drug trials are the maximum recommended trial periods. An aggressive Cognitive Behavioural Treatment or EMDR treatments of early Stress Disorder symptoms are normally the best options.

Prognosis

PTSD will affect 7.8% of adult Americans. Women (10.4%) are twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD. It is important to seek treatment as soon as you can recognize early symptoms; if left, the disorder will only worsen. PTSD can manifest other mental disorders, such as alcohol abuse or dependence and other depressive disorders like Major Depressive Disorder. In fact, roughly 80% of people diagnosed with PTSD have at least one other psychiatric disorder. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a life-long affliction. There are treatments available to help cope, but it is something you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. It is imperative to prevent the onset of PTSD before it can manifest into a life-long condition. As soon as symptoms or signs can be recognized, you must seek medical treatment to prevent PTSD. Acute Stress Disorder can be treated, but when left unnattended, PTSD can manifest and present serious health problems.

 

 

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