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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) is a disorder that usually develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, dangerous, or scary event. Events do not have to be dangerous though, some have developed PTSD through events that most go through, such as the death of a loved one. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was first recognized in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as they added it to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme. Symptoms of PTSD can be prominent and easily distinctable.This paper revolves around the causes and events that lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what the effects and symptoms are due to the disorder. Plenty of studies done on individuals with PTSD are analyzed and mentioned throughout this paper, and used to prove statistics found on the amount of people who've developed PTSD due to specific events.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder in which is caused when an individual undergoes a dangerous, scary, or shocking event. Although most people who experience a traumatic event will react negatively and anxiously, those diagnosed with PTSD will not be able to recover from the trauma and will have to go through a large dosage of treatment to be able to control their symptoms (Alic, 2016). An individual who goes through any type of traumatic event can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this includes events such as terrorist attacks, sexual assault, natural disasters, military combat, etc. 70% of adults in the United States of America will experience a traumatic event at least once in their life (approximately 223.4 million people), however, only 20% of those people will develop PTSD (approximately 44.7 million people). Also, every 1 out of 9 women will experience PTSD sometime in their life (which makes women twice as likely to develop PTSD than men), (Darity, 2008). In fact, being a woman in general is what is one of the most likely qualities of an individual that makes one susceptible to PTSD; some others include: coming from an ethnic minority, lack of education, coming from a poor background, and having of or any family members having history of any other mental illnesses. Therefore, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t an extremely rare disorder, in fact, it is a relatively common disorder to develop.

Although it may not be the most common disorder to develop as a normal U.S. citizen, war veterans have higher chances of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, roughly 30% of men and women who have spent any time in war zones have experienced PTSD, and an addition 25% have had partial PTSD. Specifically, current estimated of those who served in Iraq for PTSD are 12% to 20%, about half of Vietnam war veterans experienced symptoms of the disorder, and the estimates of the war in Afghanistan are from 6% to 11%. (Darity, 2008).

In 1919, the World War I ended, and was known as Armistice Day. This is around the time when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder first began to be observed, but was at the time known as “Shell Shock” (sometimes also named “War Neuroses”). Soldiers began to experience trouble sleeping, panic attacks, and other harsh symptoms. The disorder was called Shell Shock because the symptoms were seen as reactions to artillery shells exploding (VA, 2015). The name of this disorder was questioned by many scholars as soon as it came into existence, for example, the two scholars named Grafton Elliot Smith and Tom Hatherley Pear. Pear and Smith preferred the term “war strain” because it was noted that individuals who never had any contact with or been near any explosions started to also have symptoms. When World War II came around, the diagnosis Shell Shock was replaced by Combat Stress Reaction (CSR), or “battle fatigue”. At the time, plenty believed that the disorder wasn’t real and that some faked it to get treatment or to be relieved from duties (NIMH, 2016). These soldiers with terrible, strainful PTSD symptoms were believed to be weak and cowardly. Due to this belief, even with very little rest, soldiers were expected to return to their duties after they had a break, even if the rest showed no benefits. In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) produced the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I). The DSM-I included “gross stress reaction”, which was proposed for individuals who experienced reactions to trauma, but who were still fairly normal. In the second edition of the DSM in 1968, the former diagnosis was eliminated and was now limited to three types of trauma: Ganser syndrome in prisoners who face a death sentence, unwanted pregnancy with suicidal thoughts, and fear linked to military combat (VA, 2012). The disorder was not entitled “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” until the year of 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the DSM-III, which included research done on war veterans, sexual assault victims, Holocaust survivors, and others. This is where links between war trauma and post-military trauma were connected. The DSM-IV-TR classifies PTSD with five different criteria: stressor, intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing, hyper-arousal and duration. These five criteria include the three main symptom clusters, the history of the trauma and the duration of the symptoms from the trauma. Small changes were made to the DMI-5, in 2013 (VA, 2015). But, between and the DSMs as a whole, the largest change was that PTSD went from an only anxiety related disorder to a disorder which can incorporate other mood states and behavior (such as depression).

To be officially diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, one must have had lasting symptoms for at least thirty days (as mentioned in the DSM-IV-TR). Additionally, the patient must have three specific types of symptoms: avoidance/numbing symptoms, re-experiencing symptoms, and arousal symptoms. First, re-experiencing symptoms are symptoms in which the victim feels s though they are reliving the traumatic event. Reliving the event can happen by what is called a “flashback”, a memory triggered by a reminder of the traumatic event (Darity, 2012). For example, if a woman was a rape victim and she saw a news report on a sexual assault, she may have a flashback of the event she went through. The next type of symptom a patient must experience is an arousal symptom, which is when a victim feels constantly alert. Also, they may get easily startled when being on alert. This type of symptom is also known as increased emotional arousal, which brings along a lot of extra symptoms, such as sleep deprivation and outbursts of irritability. The third type of symptom necessary to be diagnosed with PTSD is avoidance/ numbing symptoms. Avoidance symptoms



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