Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Signs and Symptoms
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: What is it?
Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that usually develops as result
of experiencing the threat of or actual serious harm or injury as a result of a
traumatic event. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder may be caused by a variety of
terrifying events such as war-time activities, rape, physical assaults, car
accidents and any other experiences of a nature which traumatizes an individual
emotionally. Some recent events such as the Vietnam War, Oklahoma City bombing
and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, have been noted for, and will
continue to manifest continuing stress-related symptoms of
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Stress Disorder statistics:
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 3.6
percent of the adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 to 54, or approximately
5.2 million people, have symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder during the
course of any given year. NIMH also reports that as many as 30 percent of the
men and women who have spent time in war zones, may experience post-traumatic
stress disorder. The general public may have first become aware of the long-term
effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the high level of
Vietnam war veterans (one million) who may have developed post-war symptoms.
Statistics from the Persian Gulf war are estimated to be at approximately 8 % of
those who served in war zones.
Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is primarily characterized by intense symptoms
of anxiety, which are frequently experienced in the form of flashbacks,
terrifying memories, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts when people are exposed
to events or objects, which remind them of the trauma. Usually there is an
intense physiological arousal resulting in difficulty falling or staying asleep,
irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance and
an exaggerated startle response. People who experience Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder also may experience emotional numbness, depression, and various other
symptoms of anxiety.
Diagnosis of Posttraumatic Traumatic Stress Disorder:
In addition to the aforementioned symptoms of intense physiological arousal
when presented with reminders of the traumatic event, individuals with Posttraumatic
usually try to avoid any stimuli associated with the trauma. Also, the
disturbance must persist for more than one month and must cause clinically
significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, or other important
areas of functioning. Only a trained mental health
professional however should diagnose Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate
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