Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
This research paper explains and educates the reader on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With the help of several sources, I show you what this disorder is, its history andits symptoms and treatments. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, “is a psychiatric disorder that can occur on people who have experienced or witness a traumatic event”, according to the American Psychiatric Association. This disorder affects millions of people in the United States. It first started being named “nostalgia” in the late 1600’s, which then progressed to “shell schock” during World War 1. In World War 2 this term evolved to be called “battle/combat fatigue”. Finally, it was defined as PTSD by the American Psychological Association in 2013. Some symptoms of this disorder are relieving the event, avoiding situations that remind you from the event, negative changes in belief and feelings, and hyperarousal. The most known treatments are: Cognitive Behavioral , Cognitive Processing Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Prolonged Exposure.
Section 1: What is PTSD?
“Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2017).
Section 2: What is the History of PTSD?
PTSD like symptoms or conditions have been shown throughout the last several hundred years in different diagnosis. In the late 1600s, a physician who´s name was Dr. Johannes Hofer from Austria used the term “nostalgia” to describe when soldiers felt despair and sickness, with also some basic PTSD symptoms like anxiety and sleeplessness. At the same time, doctors in Germany, France and Spain detected these same symptoms in their patients. In 1761, the book “Inventum Novum”, which talked about nostalgia in soldiers with trauma, was released by Josef Leopold Auenbrugger, an Austrian Physician.
“Nostalgia” was labeled as a disease and it “reached” the US during the US Civil War. Some doctors said that it spread from camp to camp, and believed this was a sign of weakness, and it could be cured through public ridicule. After this war, doctor Jacob Mendez Da Costa noticed that many of these soldiers also had heart problems, like palpitations, constricted breathing and other cardiovascular problems. These were labeled “soldier's heart” or “Da Costa's syndrome”.
There was another outburst of these symptoms during World War 1, this time, labeled as “shell shock”. This term was first seenin the medical journal “The Lancet” in 1915, in which Capt. Charles Myers of the Royal Army Medical Corps explains how he saw soldiers experiment different symptoms, like anxiety, nightmares, tremor, and loss of hearing and vision (mostly after being near or next to an exploding shell in the battle field. However, after some months, these same symptoms started showing in those that hadn't been exposed to a bomb too. These were still called “Shell shock”, sometimes also referred to “war neurosis”. There were approximately 80,00 cases of these symptoms were recorded in Britain alone after the war.
InWorld War 2, both Britain and the United States referred to the symptoms as “battle/combat fatigue”, insinuating that the cause was the amount of time spent in the field.
The final diagnosis for PTSD was published by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) in their several Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)’s. In the DSM-5 from 2013, PTSD is no longer assigned as an anxiety disorder because it can also be related to other conditions, like depression. It is now considered fit to be put in a category called Trauma-and Stressor-Related Disorders.
Section 3: What are the Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
There is a wide range of symptoms of PTSD, considering how most cases are personal and none are the exact same to the other. The patient might experience different things for different levels mentally. Behaviorally, they might be agitated, irritable, hostile, have self-destructive behavior, be hypervigilant, or socially isolate themselves. Psychologically, they might experience flashbacks, fear, severe anxiety or mistrust. Mood wise, the patient might start finding themselves losing interest of pleasure in some activities, feeling guilty, or lonely. Physically, the patient is likely to have nightmares or insomnia, keeping them awake most, of all of the night. It is also common for them to experience an emotional detachment to family or personal things or unwanted thoughts (for example, suicidal).
Section 4: Treatment
The most known and used treatments for PTSD are psychotherapy,medication, or both. Not everyone has the same experiences or ways of developing PTSD, therefore, logically, treatments don’t work for everyone the same way.The four interventions most strongly recommended are variations of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the relationships among thoughts, feelings and behaviors; targets current problems and symptoms; and focuses on changing patterns of behaviors, thoughts and feelings that lead to difficulties in functioning.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Cognitive processing therapy is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients learn how to modify and challenge unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma.
Cognitive Therapy: Derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy entails modifying the pessimistic evaluations and memories of trauma, with the goal of interrupting the disturbing behavioral and/or thought patterns that have been interfering in the person’s daily life.
Prolonged Exposure: Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. By facing what has been avoided, a person presumably learns that the trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.” (American Psychological Association)
Section 5: Conclusion
All in all, it is important that more people are aware of this Disorder because it affects millions of people. It is also important for people to read the WHOLE definition of the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although it is mostly known through war and veterans, this Disorder can affect ANYONE who has the symptoms and went through a traumatizing experience. Awareness is a big part of the solution, people need to be more knowledgeable on these symptoms, treatments and the history.
American Psychological Association, PTSD Treatments. Retrieved from
History.com staff (2017)PTSD and Shell Shock. Retrieved from
Parekh, R. (2017) What is PTSD? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from
US Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp