Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

(Also Known As: Ptsd, Stress Disorder, Traumatic Stress, Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Shell Shock, Stress Syndrome, Railway Spine, Traumatic War Neurosis, Battle Fatigue, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety disorder involving an extreme emotional illness that develops due to a frightening, unsafe, and life-threatening experience. The person affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder re-experiences the traumatic event leading them to avoid places, people, occasions, events and other things that remind them of their traumatic experience, and they become overly sensitive to life’s normal experiences. The person affected with PTSD experiences hyper-arousal and avoidance of things that can remind them of their frightening experiences.

The fight or flight response is a healthy reaction of the body that is meant to protect the person from harm, but this normal response in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is highly impaired, causing the person to feel overly stressed and scared even when they are no longer in danger.1

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involves a strong, severe, and on-going emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. The threat acts as a stressor to the affected person which usually involves an actual death, deadly threat to the patient or someone else’s life, may have caused serious physical injury, a threat to one’s psychological and physical integrity, an overwhelming of one's psychological defenses, or an unwanted sexual act. The person experiences both psychological and emotional trauma with a higher level of intensity, which makes it distinguishable from a traumatic stress which occurs with less duration and intensity. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder used to be recognized in the past as shell shock, stress syndrome, railway spine, traumatic war neurosis, battle fatigue, and post traumatic stress syndrome.2

The stress disorder that stems out from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can result in potentially devastating consequences, affecting the person’s functional relationships with families and society. Women are three times more likely to become victims of PTSD than men. Women who experienced sexual abuse usually develop a more complex form of stress disorder, and may develop Borderline Personality Disorder. A pregnant mother who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may cause harm to the child in her womb with altered brain chemicals in the fetus that highly predispose the baby to develop PTSD later in life. Teens and children suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have difficulty in learning, with significant negative effects on their social and emotional development.

There are other comorbid disorders that accompany Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, namely Agoraphobia, major depressive disorder, Panic Disorder, substance related disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, social phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, specific phobia and Bipolar Disorder. These disorders usually precede, follow, or emerge concurrently with PTSD onset. Somatic complaints and other general medical conditions are also associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur at any age with symptoms developing as soon as 3 months after the traumatic event, or it may take months or years to develop. The person initially develops an Acute Stress Disorder immediately in the aftermath of the trauma.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This is a disorder of extreme stress found in persons exposed to prolonged traumatic experiences and sexual abuse during childhood which may be due to brain and hormonal changes caused by prolonged trauma. When these changes are combined with an abusive home environment, it may result in emotional deregulation, aggression, impulsivity, drug/alcohol abuse, and self destructive behavior. In adults, the condition is accompanied with depressive disorders, dissociative, and personality disorders.

Could You Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – Unpleasant Emotion, Fear, Anxiety, Phobia, Fatigue, Exhaustion
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Irrational Worry, Uncontrolled Depression, Anxiety Response Not in Proportion to the Actual Cause
Panic Disorder – Panic Attack, Anxiety, On-Going Irrational Worry
Social Anxiety Disorder – Social Anxiety, Anxiety Disorder, Chronic Fear to be Judge by Others, Fear of Social Interaction