Disability Types: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s movements, senses, and activities. It may be present since birth or may occur during a person’s lifetime. Disability is an umbrella term and covers any form of impairment that might slow down or lead to complete inability of doing household tasks. It is not just a health problem, it is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the physical or mental attributes, which need to be fixed.

Too often a lack of knowledge about disability, or understanding of how people manage disability day-to-day, prevents people from interacting with each other. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extremely debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults such as rape or mugging, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

Military troops who served in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing; survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, as well as other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their home countries; survivors of the 1994 California earthquake, the 1997 South Dakota floods, and hurricanes Hugo and Andrew; and people who witness traumatic events are among the people who may develop PTSD. Families of victims can also develop the disorder.

Who Is Most Likely to Develop PTSD?

It is quite obvious to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear initiates a myriad of split-second changes in the body in order to help defend against the impending danger or to avoid it. This is called as the “fight-or-flight” response, as result of sympathetic stimulation or adrenaline rush, and is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from a possible harm.

Almost every individual will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most of the people recover from initial symptoms naturally with the passage of time. However, those who continue to experience these problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. These patients might feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger. People who have been abused as children or who have had other previous traumatic experiences are more likely to develop the disorder. Research is continuing to pinpoint other factors that may lead to PTSD.

It must also be noted that, not every traumatized individual develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Also, not everyone with PTSD have been through a dangerous event.

Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, however, sometimes they begin years after the occurrence of traumatic incidence. Also, the symptoms must last more than a month and must be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered as a confirmed case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of the individuals recover within 6 months, while others have long lasting symptoms, and the condition becomes chronic.

In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have all of the following for a minimum duration of 1 month:

  • Minimum one re-experiencing symptom
  • Minimum one avoidance symptom
  • Minimum two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • Minimum two cognition and mood symptoms
  • Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the trauma.
  • Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms.
  • People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common.
  • Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal.

Co-occurring depression, alcohol or other substance abuse, or another anxiety disorder are not uncommon. The likelihood of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated as well.

Headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, or discomfort in other parts of the body are common. Often, doctors treat the symptoms without being aware that they stem from PTSD. NIMH, through its education program, is encouraging primary care providers to ask patients about experiences with violence, recent losses, and traumatic events, especially if symptoms keep recurring.

When PTSD is diagnosed, referral to a mental health professional who has had experience treating people with the disorder is recommended.

Post Traumatic Stress Details

At least 3.6% of U.S. adults (5.2 million Americans) have PTSD during the course of a year. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. One million war veterans developed PTSD after serving in Vietnam. PTSD has also been detected among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, with some estimates running as high as 8 percent.

PTSD can develop at any age, including in childhood. Symptoms typically begin within 3 months of a traumatic event, although occasionally they do not begin until years later. Once PTSD occurs, the severity and duration of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others suffer much longer.

PTSD Treatments

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy, in which the patient repeatedly relives the frightening experience under controlled conditions to help him or her work through the trauma, as well as medications that help ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety and help promote sleep. Scientists are attempting to determine which treatments work best for which type of trauma.

  • Medications: The most commonly used medications for treating PTSD include antidepressants. They may be prescribed along with psychotherapy. As far as other medications are concerned, research has shown that Prazosin may be helpful  with sleep problems, particularly nightmares.
  • Yoga: Yoga is an ancient Indian practice involving the training of mind and body to achieve balance and well being, which enables the individual to be healthy, both physically and mentally to reach his or her highest potential as a person.
  • Psychotherapy: It is also called as talk therapy and involves talking with a mental health professional, which usually lasts 6 to 12 weeks. The doctor can recommend a one-on-one or a group therapy. The therapy focus on social, family, or job-related problems. One helpful form of therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. It includes:
  • Exposure therapy. It helps the people to face and control their fear by gradually exposing them to the trauma in a safe way.
  • Cognitive restructuring. It helps the people to make sense of the bad memories. They might feel guilt or shame about something that is not originally their fault. The main aim of the therapist here, is to help the  people to look at what happened in a realistic way.

 

 

 

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