Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When working as a EMT the first service I worked for in my first year had a VA hospital contract. I transferred veterans of wars that had this condition. This page will be on this only trying to explain more about it and what it is and who can get it and how to get help. There will be links to support all that I write and showing where my info came from.

PTSD is a condition that can affect anyone after a traumatic incedent in which they fear for there life or go thru a horrible situtation. The example I gave above with veterns is one of the biggest. It is also known as shell shock. But not only veterns can get this. Professionals in EMS, fire and police officers can encounter it any day in there job some has had to change jobs because of it.

The Oklahoma bombing effected many people would not be suprised if at least half of the involved did not have this to some degree.

*While the condition is commonly associated with shell-shocked war veterans, it is surprisingly prevalent among the general population as well. One study, in large metropolitan area, found about 11% of all women suffer from the condition, which may arise from any sort of causes, including rape, mugging, natural disasters and accidents.

*Women have a higher rate of PTSD than men, when exposed to traumatic situations. Men are diagnosed at a rate of 19% and women at the rate 31% after a traumatic event. It is unclear why the gender gap is present. Some psychiatrists have suggested that the difference is due to women experiencing PSTD due to the trauma of loved ones, and it reflects women's tendency to be more connected in personal relationships. With many psychiatric problems, women simply seek treatment more than men, so perhaps the true incidence is the same. Women as a group may experience more severe or multiple trauma due to traumas like rape or domestic violence. Women have been shown to ruminate more on their problems, whereas men will tend to distract themselves with an activity. This leads to more depression in women. Maybe it leads to more problems with post-traumatic coping? People who feel like their actions matter during the crisis and that they can do something to improve their chances of survival are less likely to experience PSTD. Maybe women's socialization as more passive is a factor in this gender difference. Or maybe our smaller physical size really does give us fewer ways to be pro-active in some crisis? When women do have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, their symptoms may worsen pre-menstrually.

*PSTD can be treated. Usually, psychotherapy (talking to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional) is the cornerstone of treatment. Sometimes medications will be added to treat specific associated problems like depression, insomnia, or anxiety. Someone who is experiencing these post-traumatic problems, it is best for her to go for an evaluation. She can get the help she needs, instead of reliving the situation over and over.


Acute and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders

Acute stress disorder refers to the anxiety and behavioral disturbances that develop within the first month after exposure to an extreme trauma. Generally, the symptoms of an acute stress disorder begin during or shortly following the trauma. Such extreme traumatic events include rape or other severe physical assault, near-death experiences in accidents, witnessing a murder, and combat. The symptom of dissociation, which reflects a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even the body, is a critical feature. Dissociation also is characterized by a sense of the world as a dreamlike or unreal place and may be accompanied by poor memory of the specific events, which in severe form is known as dissociative amnesia. Other features of an acute stress disorder include symptoms of generalized anxiety and hyperarousal, avoidance of situations or stimuli that elicit memories of the trauma, and persistent, intrusive recollections of the event via flashbacks, dreams, or recurrent thoughts or visual images.

If the symptoms and behavioral disturbances of the acute stress disorder persist for more than 1 month, and if these features are associated with functional impairment or significant distress to the sufferer, the diagnosis is changed to post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is further defined in DSM-IV as having three subforms: acute1 (< 3 months’ duration), chronic (> 3 months’ duration), and delayed onset (symptoms began at least 6 months after exposure to the trauma).

By virtue of the more sustained nature of post-traumatic stress disorder (relative to acute stress disorder), a number of changes, including decreased self-esteem, loss of sustained beliefs about people or society, hopelessness, a sense of being permanently damaged, and difficulties in previously established relationships, are typically observed. Substance abuse often develops, especially involving alcohol, marijuana, and sedative-hypnotic drugs.

About 50 percent of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder remit within 6 months. For the remainder, the disorder typically persists for years and can dominate the sufferer’s life. A longitudinal study of Vietnam veterans, for example, found 15 percent of veterans to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder 19 years after combat exposure (cited in McFarlane & Yehuda, 1996). In the general population, the 1-year prevalence is about 3.6 percent, with women having almost twice the prevalence of men (Kessler et al., 1995) (Table 4-1). The highest rates of post-traumatic stress disorder are found among women who are victims of crime, especially rape, as well as among torture and concentration camp survivors (Yehuda, 1999). Overall, among those exposed to extreme trauma, about 9 percent develop post-traumatic stress disorder (Breslau et al., 1998).

*Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder

A panic attack is a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort that is associated with numerous somatic and cognitive symptoms (DSM-IV). These symptoms include palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, sensations of choking or smothering, chest pain, nausea or gastrointestinal distress, dizziness or lightheadedness, tingling sensations, and chills or blushing and “hot flashes.” The attack typically has an abrupt onset, building to maximum intensity within 10 to 15 minutes. Most people report a fear of dying, “going crazy,” or losing control of emotions or behavior. The experiences generally provoke a strong urge to escape or flee the place where the attack begins and, when associated with chest pain or shortness of breath, frequently results in seeking aid from a hospital emergency room or other type of urgent assistance. Yet an attack rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes. Current diagnostic practice specifies that a panic attack must be characterized by at least four of the associated somatic and cognitive symptoms described above. The panic attack is distinguished from other forms of anxiety by its intensity and its sudden, episodic nature. Panic attacks may be further characterized by the relationship between the onset of the attack and the presence or absence of situational factors. For example, a panic attack may be described as unexpected, situationally bound, or situationally predisposed (usually, but not invariably occurring in a particular situation). There are also attenuated or “limited symptom” forms of panic attacks.




*Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder This is where got the three paragrahs above!

Women and Grief A great site helps explain Grief and PTSD in women due to loss!

http://www.compassionatefriends.org/index.html A site for those that lost a child! Great group have got info from them myself!

NCPTSD National Center for PTSD

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder More info

*Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General - Chapter 4 another link from above info!

I Hope this page has brought attention to PTSD through this information!