Overview – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is trauma and stress-related disorder thought originally to be something only military service members and veterans faced. However, it can happen to anyone, especially those who experience an intense, often life-threatening, event, along with “first responders.” PTSD differs from acute stress disorder in that the experiences are more long-term and will usually disturb daily life. An estimated 7.7 million Americans have suffered or are suffering from PTSD and another eight percent of the population will eventually develop the disorder. PTSD is defined as a type of anxiety disorder triggered by exposure to actual death, the threat of death, serious injury and/or sexual violation. Symptoms can appear as soon as the episode ends or even years later.
The event may be experienced personally or witnessed in person or experienced by hearing about a traumatic event. According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, there are more than 3 million cases of PTSD per year. Prevalence is higher for females (5.2 percent) than for males (1.8 percent). Among adolescents aged 13 through 17, PTSD affects approximately 1 in 20 or 5 percent. About one-half of all U.S. adults will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, but most do not develop PTSD. What makes the difference? Some individuals are at higher risk because they already have existing problems such as anxiety disorders, depression disorders, abuse; blood relatives with mental health problems including anxiety or depression, and the absence of a good support network. Some may have a history of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs; exposure to intense or long-lasting trauma, substance abuse, military personnel, and first responders. Those who do develop PTSA also are at higher risk for developing co-morbid conditions such as eating disorders, issues with drugs or alcohol, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Getting help in a timely manner may prevent some symptoms from developing.
Individuals who experience PTSD may have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories of the event(s), experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or may be easily startled. Characterized by intense fear, helplessness, and stress, PTSD can significantly impair one’s normal life and an ability to function at home, work, and socially.
PTSD information addresses four different classifications, one each day for four days:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be described as a trauma and stress-related disorder that occurs after an individual has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It differs from acute stress disorder in that the experiences are more long-term and will usually disturb daily life. It is characterized by intense fear, helplessness, and stress. Individuals who experience PTSD may have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories of the event(s).
PTSD can significantly impair one’s normal life and an ability to function at home, work, and socially. Those who are diagnosed with PTSA are at higher risk for developing co-morbid conditions such as eating disorders, issues with drugs or alcohol, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Getting help in a timely manner may prevent some symptoms from developing.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Preschool Subtype
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Preschool Subtype is a trauma and stress-related disorder involving young children. Many young children are exposed to all manner of traumatic experiences, which places them at risk for developing PTSD.
Toddlers, children, and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed through observing violence at home or nearby, watching television and movies, and when using computers which influence their perceptions and behaviors. Many younger children cannot discriminate between what they see and what is real. Research has shown primary negative health effects on violence and aggressive behaviors, sexuality, school performance, body concept and self-image, nutrition, dieting, and obesity, along with substance use and abuse patterns.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Dissociative Subtype
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Dissociative Subtype is characterized by high PTSD severity, a more significant history of early life trauma, and higher levels of comorbid psychiatric disorders. These individuals tend to show decreased activity in the brain’s prefrontal regions and decreased activation of the amygdala in response to traumatic reminders of the event(s). Think of it as a breakdown in how the mind handles information. Individuals may feel disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. It can affect both one’s sense of identity and of the perception of time.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Due to Death, Disasters
Survivors often experience PTSD after the death of someone close to them, following a natural or human-made disaster, or related to combat experiences. By definition, PTSD can develop when someone has “experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a terrible event.” News of an unexpected death or disaster already triggers very strong emotions because it is a surprise and catches one off guard. This can result in the development of PTSD. Symptoms may not occur right after the event and may show up weeks later. Some victims seem at first perfectly (or even abnormally) fine, only to be beset with symptoms later on. Generally, survivors are encouraged to seek professional help if they find themselves unable to regain control of their lives or if they continue to suffer from PTSD symptoms for more than a month. Sooner is often better than later.
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