After years of being under-diagnosed, especially in military personnel, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is starting to come into the awareness of the medical community and the mainstream community as well. As the medical community learns more about this imbalance, there is more research on how it affects patients and how we can better recognize it and treat it.
The definition of PTSD is the development of certain symptoms following a mentally stressful event that involved actual death or the threat of death, serious injury, or a threat to oneself or others. These events can happen in any environment, however two of the most well-studied at this time are military personnel and people diagnosed with terminal illnesses, especially cancer.
Other scenarios that predispose a person to developing PTSD are having the experience of intense or long-lasting trauma, or being abused or neglected as a child. If a person has a personal history of anxiety, depression or other mental health challenge they may develop PTSD. If a person has an immediate family member that has mental health problem, depression, or a history of PTSD they are predisposed to PTSD as well.
PTSD can develop after a traumatic event such as combat, molestation, rape, terrorism, war, physical attack, being threaten with a weapon or childhood abuse. Experiencing one of these events doesn’t mean that a person will develop PTSD, however it is always a good idea to seek treatment as soon after the event has occurred to maintain good mental health.
PTSD generally develops about three months after the traumatic event. PTSD is often described as reliving the original event over and over again. A PTSD event can be triggered by anything that reminds the person of the event. Sights, smell, noise that are similar to anything that happened during the event can send the person into symptoms of PTSD.
The symptoms generally fall into several categories of behavior: hyper-anxious state, reliving the event, intrusive memories or bad dreams and finally avoidance and numbing behaviors to prevent intrusive memories.
If these symptoms persist for over a month or they prevent the person from being able to complete daily activities then a doctor needs to be consulted for treatment.
We will continue this discussion in my next blog about PTSD.
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"Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/DS00246.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder - PubMed Health." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001923/.
Reviewed November 8, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
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