Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
In numerous historical documents and literary texts, evidence of a unique stress reaction following certain types of traumatic experiences seems to indicate long-standing recognition of such a disorder. However, it was not until the late twentieth century that this grouping came to be recognized as a distinct psychological disorder that is differentiated from other types of stress and trauma. Although some controversy has continued to surround the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, its causes, and its symptoms, the consensus among helping professionals is that this is a verifiable condition, the prevalence of which is likely much broader than previously believed.
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How to Write a Research Paper on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Paper Masters suggests that a complete research paper on post traumatic stress syndrome will present an informational overview and analysis of posttraumatic stress disorder in the following way:
- First, a definition of posttraumatic stress disorder should be offered.
- Then, the prevalence of the disorder in both the general population and specific sub-groups may be discussed.
- Symptoms and causation should be considered next, followed by current models of treatment for the condition.
- Finally, in your conclusion, an over arching assessment of the psychological and social impact and significance of posttraumatic stress disorder must be presented.
Post traumatic stress syndrome, also known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) consists of a host of negative symptoms experienced by an individual after exposure to a particularly stressful situation, such as combat, sexual assault, or serious injury. In the DSM-IV, PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder. Individuals experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome generally avoid thoughts or emotions connected to the specific event.
The symptoms classified as PTSD are not a new phenomenon, but have gone under various names in the past. During the First World War, combat soldiers were said to suffer from "shell shock." During the Second World War it was "combat fatigue." It was only after the Vietnam War that doctors began understanding the ways in which veterans suffered from PTSD.
However, PTSD can develop from any number of traumatic events that have nothing to do with warfare. Children who grow up in households with domestic violence are likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Women, who are likely to face more violence or sexual assault, have PTSD rates hovering around 20%, while the general population of men typical sees rates of 8%.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication have proven to be effective treatments of PTSD. Further, the U.S. National Center for PTSD recommends physical activity as beneficial in distracting from negative emotions associated with PTSD.
Research on the Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder was once considered a disorder primarily affecting veterans of war. It is now understood that PTSD can affect any individual exposed to a traumatic event. These events are diverse and include but are not limited to:
- Physical assault such as rape, kidnapping or torture
- Natural or man-made disaster
- Vehicular accidents
- Military combat
Acts of terrorism, school shootings, and mass executions during ethnic warfare can also be counted among the many traumatic events an individual might experience in our world today.
Distinguishing characteristics and diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (1994), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual contains a listing of psychiatric disorders and their corresponding codes as well as each disorders diagnostic criteria, related features, prevalence, differential diagnosis, etc.
According to the DSM-IV, posttraumatic stress disorder is the development of distinctive symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic incident. It may develop in an individual who has experienced an event that involves death or threatened death, serious injury or some other threat to one's physical well being or that of another. This disorder can also develop in individuals who have witnessed or learned of a physically or psychologically distressing event. The individual's response to the event is one of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Symptoms of PTSD usually appear within three months of the traumatic event but there may be a delayed onset with symptoms appearing at least six months after the stressor. Symptoms of the disorder fall into three categories:
- Hyper arousal
The term intrusion describes the reexperiencing of a traumatic event through sudden and unexpected remembering, nightmares or flashbacks. These memories can be so strong the individual may believe he is experiencing the trauma again. Avoidance is manifested by an individual's detachment from family members, friends and society in general. This detachment may be accompanied by an inability to feel or express emotion. An individual with PTSD will avoid situations or activities that might remind them of their traumatic experience. Because of an increased state of arousal they may become irritable or volatile for no apparent reason. A constant fear of danger results in exaggerated startle reactions and difficulty in concentration and if experiencing recurrent nightmares, the individual may develop insomnia. PTSD is considered acute if it lasts less than three months. Symptoms lasting longer than three months indicate chronic PTSD.