Mar 7, 2011

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Pfc. John Dwyer,  a medic during the Iraq war, who died
after suffering from PTSD 

Imagine yourself in the midst of the strong earthquake that had just hit the town of Christchurch in New Zealand, seeing buildings crumbling in a blink of an eye. Or how about witnessing how the chaos in Libya unfolds and being in the hordes of people, joining the exodus. How do you think you would react?  Can you easily erase that harrowing ordeal from your memory? Probably not. Children who came home to the Philippines after, escaping the war-torn Libya were reported to have been showing some inadequate behaviors like, crying without apparent reason, trembling and trouble sleeping. These children might develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder without proper intervention.

Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorder belongs to a group of anxiety disorder. It can develop after exposure to traumatic events, such as war, natural disaster, violent assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, accidents, terrorist attacks and other life-threatening conditions. Children may even develop PTSD symptoms after having been bullied.

Patients with PTSD may complain of flashbacks, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, feeling alone, angry outbursts and feeling worried, guilty or sad.  These signs may start soon after the frightening event or even years later. To be considered a PTSD the symptoms should be present for 1 month or more. It should be persistent enough to cause disruption of daily activities or functional impairment.

PTSD can happen on anyone at any age, including children.

PTSD can be acute (symptoms lasting less than 3 mos.), chronic (symptoms lasting 3 mos. Or more), or delayed onset (6 mos. elapses from the event to symptom onset).

The earliest description of PTSD was made by the Greek historian Herodotus in 490 BC. An Athenian soldier became permanently blind after witnessing the death of a fellow soldier in the Battle of Marathon.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 830,000 Vietnam War veterans suffered symptoms of PTSD.

Surveys of about 3,700 people who survived the World Trade Center attack found that about 96% still had at least one symptom of PTSD two to three years later.

In recent history, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake may have caused PTSD in many survivors and rescue workers.

PTSD has a lifetime prevalence of 8-10%. Females are at higher risk than males. Sexual assault has the most impact on women, whereas for men it is combat trauma.

Risk Factor for PTSD

Researchers identified the following as the predisposing factors for the development of PTSD:

  •     Characteristics of the trauma exposure itself (proximity , severity and duration of exposure)
  •     Characteristics of the individual prior to trauma exposure (family history of prior psychiatric illness,  gender)
  •      Post-trauma factors (availability of social support, emergence of avoidance, numbing, hyperarousal and re-expereincing symptoms)

  1. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Wikipedia
  2. Post-traumatic stress Disorder. Emedicine
  3. Post-traumatic Stress Disorde. National Institute of Mental Health
Related Articles:
Pathophysiology of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
How to diagnose Post-traumatic Stress Disorder



Greame Smith said...

I liked this post. Can you explain this topic very well.

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Zombie said...

Fantastic post!

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