Psychiatry had emphasized the deficiencies of individuals as the source of mental problems. Before the 1970s, combat veterans, crime victims and other trauma survivors were usually blamed for their symptoms and regarded as weak. The high rate of psychiatric disorders suffered by Vietnam vets led to research by the Veterans Administration, which helped to establish the validity of PTSD. According to the DSM IV TR, a person has to experience a traumatic event that there was threatened death, serious injury to oneself or others which involved terror, extreme fear and/or helplessness.
PTSD and Reliving the Event
The event is constantly replayed in one or more ways. There can be continual memories of the trauma which includes thoughts, images or perceptions. There can be nightmares of the incident.
Some PTSD sufferers feel the event is recurring and are re-experiencing it and may also have flashbacks, hallucinations and illusions. There can be intense psychological distress and physiological reactions to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event.
PTSD and Avoidance
A person avoids cues associated with the trauma and emotions are numbed in several ways. There can be attempts to avoid thoughts, emotions, talking, people, places or activities that evoke memories of the event.
Some patients with PTSD may repress important memories of the event, have less interest or taking part in formerly important activities or feel detached from others. There can be a limited gamut of feelings or a sense of doom.
PTSD and Other Symptoms
There can be indications of PTSD that were not present before the traumatic event. Some examples of these other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include insomnia, short temper, increased startle response, decreased concentration and hyper-vigilance, over-alertness.
PTSD and Intervention
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a therapy offered to people within two days following a civilian or combat trauma. It is intended to avert the development of PTSD.
The PTSD treatment usually has four stages: describing the traumatic event, sharing emotional reactions to it, discussing symptoms and reassurance that these are normal responses, then, a discussion of coping methods.
PTSD and Psychotherapy
There are several psychotherapy methods used to treat PTSD. These methods include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – There are two methods are desensitization which attempts to decrease the symptoms of PTSD by addressing the fear and anxiety management training, which teaches strategies for reducing anxiety. Strategies include relaxation training, biofeedback, distraction techniques or cognitive restructuring.
- Psychodynamic Therapy – This helps the patient improve a sense of self, learn new ways of coping and how to deal with emotions related to the trauma.
- Discussion Groups – These groups are usually designed for survivors of specific traumas. They help people recognize that others who had the same experience have identical emotions and reacted in similar ways.
- Family Therapy – This is recommended for people whose family has been affected by their PTSD symptoms.
The Prognosis for PTSD
Those who receive CISD as soon as possible after the event have the best prognosis for total recovery. A combination of peer-group meetings and individual psychotherapy are often successful. Treatment may require several years and the individual is likely to relapse.
For some people, PTSD becomes a chronic disorder that can last for decades or the rest of their lives. They have the poorest prognosis for recovery. Unfortunately, some don’t respond to any of the current treatments for PTSD.
Some traumas, such as disasters and accidents, can never be eliminated. Traumas caused by people’s intention, such as mass murders, would require major societal changes to reduce their occurrences and brutality. At present, the use of CISD and psychotherapy appear to be the best form of prevention for these survivors while for those who are under the influence of drugs, heroin centers miami can help.