Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 2010

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. 1

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) develops after an exposure to traumatic events, such as violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. People who suffer from PTSD have their "fight-or-flight" response changed or damaged, thus feeling stressed or frightened even when they're not actually in danger. 2

There are three symptoms required to assign the diagnosis of PTSD:
1. recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma
2. having a phobia that reminds the trauma & having emotional numbing
3. chronic physical signs of hyperarousal

Symptoms of PTSD include:
problems regulating feelings, which can result in suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or passive aggressive behaviors; a tendency to forget the trauma or feel detached from one's life (dissociation) or body (depersonalization); persistent feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, or being completely different from others; feeling the perpetrator of trauma is all-powerful and preoccupation with either revenge against or allegiance with the perpetrator; and severe change in those things that give the sufferer meaning, like a loss of spiritual faith or an ongoing sense of helplessness, hopelessness, or despair. 3

Usually, a life-threatening trauma compromises the emotional well-being of an individual and causes PTSD. As most mental illnesses, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mixture of:
  • Inherited predisposition to psychiatric illness, especially anxiety and depression
  • Your life experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma you've been exposed to since early childhood
  • The inherited aspects of your personality - often called your temperament
  • The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress 4

Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment often includes both medications and psychotherapy.

  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can improve feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • A drug called prazosin, which has been used for years in the treatment of hypertension, blocks the brain's response to an adrenaline-like brain chemical called norepinephrine, thus suppressing nightmares.
  • Cognitive Therapy - This type of talk therapy helps you identify and change self-destructive thought (cognitive) patterns.
  • Exposure Therapy - This behavioral therapy technique helps you safely confront the very thing that you find upsetting or disturbing, so that you can learn to cope effectively with it.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprecessing(EMDR) - This type of therapy combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy - This approach combines cognitive and behavior therapy to help you identify unhealthy beliefs and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. 4

After experiencing violent abuse from a police officer, a 34-year-old married pregnant woman carried symptoms that match the descriptions of post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). The woman narrates that she was intimidated by the officer because she has seen him harass people in the past, threatened her that he would shoot her dogs, and threw her on the stomach to handcuff her. She recounts that she had a horrible thought of losing her baby because she did not recognize that she had urinated in her pants.

After few weeks of the incident, the woman suffers from an overwhelming anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and helplessness.
"I have nightmares every night now. Last night, I dreamed that I was being shot, along with my dogs, executioner style. I was on my knees and facing away from the executioner with one dog on either side of me. The dogs were shot and then I turned around and saw Officer Breck and I woke up terror struck. I got no sleep for the rest of the night. I'm exhausted, scared, confused, and angry. I can't take care of my son, and I'm terribly worried about my pregnancy. Then I had another dream that I'm in the cop car and the cops are laughing at me. I'm peeing in my pants, thinking I've lost my baby and they're laughing."

She also gets terrified whenever she sees a police officer or a police car passing by. She would often go back into her house whenever she sees them. Such exaggerated response and psychological symptoms such as palpitations, abdominal distress, sweating, and breathing difficulties all show that she is suffering from a certain phobia, one of the symptoms of PTSD.

She once came to her therapist and said that she had stayed in bed all weekend, unable to mobilize herself and feeling dissociated and detached from her own experience. She found it distressing that she had no interest in any of her usual activities. Feelings of detachment and estrangement and loss of interest in significant activities are also symptoms of PTSD. Avoidance of activities, places or people that arouse recollection of the traumatic event is another central symptom of PTSD.

  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Acuted Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 6


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  1. Posttraumatic stress disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  2. NIMH · Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (n.d.). NIMH · Home. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  3. Dryden-Edwards, R. (n.d.). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - (n.d.). Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living - Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  5. Sichel, M. (n.d.). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - A Case Study . Psybersquare. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from post-traumatic stress disorder case study
  6. Burton, J., & M.D.. (n.d.). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Johns Hopkins Medicine, based in Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  7. YouTube - PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Suicides - "No Kidding, Me 2!" . (n.d.). YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
  8. YouTube - Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder . (n.d.). YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

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