Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that is characterized by constant anxiety and is often the result of continuing frightening. PTSD may be caused by the traumatic events and further on the people who have this syndrome avoid the places and all things which may remind them about these traumatic events of the past and such behavior is called avoidance by the doctors. People with PTSD are very sensitive to ordinary life experiences that means hyperarousal in medicine. Although people suffer from this disease since the beginning of human history, this disease has become to be recognized in medicine since 1980.
It has had a lot of different names since that time. During the American Civil War, it was known as “soldier’s heart”. In World War l it was called “combat fatigue”. During World War ll the disease with the same symptoms was known as “gross stress reaction”. PTSD was also called “battle fatigue” and “shell shock”. Nowadays it is also known as “post-Vietnam syndrome”. As we may observe the name of this disease is connected with such traumatic and disastrous events as wars which have a negative effect on the human psyche. Soldiers who participate in wars and suffer from prolonged traumatic events have problems with their emotional state and social functioning (Dryden-Edwards).
According to the latest statistics, 7-8% of the citizens of the USA are vulnerable to the development of this syndrome. 30 % among them are the victims of the war or soldiers who have participated in the war (Dryden-Edwards). A high rate of this disorder is observed in Native Americans and African Americans in the USA. It is explained by the discrimination of these ethnic minorities during American history. Besides the representation of ethnic minorities, the people who had to experience war at their young ages are vulnerable to this disorder. Nearly 5 million Americans suffer from PTSD one time during their life where women are more likely to suffer from this disorder (Dryden-Edwards).
As for the children and teenagers, 40 % are likely to suffer from PTSD after having experienced a traumatic event in their life where the girls prevail (Dryden-Edwards). Children who have endured sexual assault or seen when the parent was killed suffer from PTSD. Community violence such as stabbing, shooting, or other forms of assault may also cause the development of PTSD (Pease).
It should be noted that traumatic events always have emotional consequences but not all people who have been traumatized are diagnosed to have PTSD. PTSD may be caused by physical injuries, severe accidents, being the victims of discrimination, kidnapping, robbery, mugging, rape, assault or torture, being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, or receiving a life-threatening diagnosis. More than that, not only traumatic events may be the reason for the development of PTSD.
Devastating life events which are experienced by people such as unemployment or divorce may also be the reason for the development of PTSD. According to modern researches, people who are sensitive to extreme stressors have a smaller hippocampus, the area of the brain which is responsible for memory (Dryden-Edwards). As the result, the traumatic event is kept in the memory and new life events are difficult to be memorized without the previous experience. More than that, people who have PTSD are at risk of the high use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. They seek to forget their previous experience with these means helps them only for a while.
People who suffer from this disorder and do not ask for specialists’ help have devastating consequences. Their life becomes senseless and they do not find their place in their life. As the result, they have problems in the family, friendship, and human relationships. Pregnant women who have PTSD may have memory and other health problems. Women who have been abused are likely to have PTSD. As far as women are weaker than men and they are more defenseless in society, they are more vulnerable to this disorder. Adults, as well as children suffering from PTSD, have more problems with their health, and their emotional and social functioning is influenced negatively.
Despite health problems, this disorder has become a burning issue for many countries as far as it has economical consequences. For example, 200,000 veterans are compensated for a cost of $4.3 billion in 2005 in the USA because of their illness and as the result their social dysfunction (Dryden-Edwards). As we can see, PTSD has become a problem not only for the individual but the whole countries as far as more and more people are likely to have this disorder.
It is explained by the development of criminal and other disorders and the helplessness of the government to protect its citizens from them. Although we do not live in a period of war, many people are diagnosed to have PTSD. People who have experienced world wars a long time ago have psychical problems till now. We may conclude how expensive human wars are. They cost millions of human lives.
People who are at risk of traumatic events are more vulnerable to have PTSD. People belonging to ethnic minorities, having learning disabilities, or problems in the family are diagnosed to have PTSD more often after traumatic events. Disaster-preparedness is considered to be the solving of the problem (Dryden-Edwards). People should be emotionally prepared to suffer such traumatic events. People with more professional training such as police, mental health professionals, firefighters, paramedics, and other professions who experience traumatic events more often are more stable to be diagnosed to have PTSD.
The events that may shock unprepared people and traumatize their state of mind are accepted as the ordinary working schedule of these professionals. Despite such disaster-preparedness, there are medicines that are known to help in preventing this disorder. These are medicines that treat depression, increase the action of body chemicals and make the heart rate lower may prevent PTSD if they are taken immediately after the traumatic event.
The main problem of developing PTSD is that people who experienced traumatic events are not treated immediately. They do not pay attention to their emotional state and as the result, they are diagnosed to have PTSD. There are three groups of symptoms that may help to define the disease. They are nightmares, sleep problems, and phobias (Dryden-Edwards). Traumatic events experienced by people and caused PTSD are kept in the mind and reminded about themselves in different ways.
Nightmares are like recurrent re-experience of traumatic events. Phobias are connected with the fact that people try to avoid places, people, or things reminding them about their traumatic experiences. Irritation, poor concentration, memory problems, sleeplessness are the symptoms of PTSD. Emotional symptoms are the lack of interest in activities that may cause enjoyment, the avoidance of contact with other people, the desire for solitude, sadness, and the sense of an unhappy and short future.
People who have such symptoms should be psychologically and medically treated. Psychotherapy is one of the means of treatment including the talks with the individuals about the overcoming of these symptoms, the ways of controlling their thoughts, and influencing the way of thinking. Sufferers should be taught to control their emotions such as anger and anxiety, improve their contact and communication skills and use relaxation techniques. Medical treatment includes the use of medicines such as antidepressants and medicines that increase human abilities to fight the symptoms caused by the illness.
The relatives of the people diagnosed with PTSD should be aware of all the necessary information connected with this disease. As has been said above, the most vulnerable group to this disorder is the soldiers. The interview with the wife of the soldier diagnosed with PTSD helps to understand better what the sufferers and their relatives have to go through. Shelly is the wife of a man who has participated in the Iraq war in 2005-2006 and has been diagnosed to have PTSD in 2007 (Call 2009).
She points out that many people believe that the first stroke of the disease appears right after the traumatic event but it is not true. There are cases of delayed-onset PTSD which may be suffered only a few months later. This is the same case with her husband. He seemed to be okay when he came back from the war but later he had sleeplessness and depression. When we noticed these symptoms he went to the military clinic and expressed his anxiety about these symptoms asking for help but the doctors sent him away. Only after the panic attack, they tell him to go home and lay down. He had to visit the clinic about five times before they provided him with the necessary help. Such persistence saved his life as far as the symptoms develop in the course of time. Now her husband regularly visits a psychologist and a psychiatrist.
He regularly takes antidepressants and sleep medications. As we may conclude from Shelly’s words, PTSD is difficult to be diagnosed and people should not ignore any psychical problems and anxieties. It was difficult for Shelly to cope with her husband’s diagnosis but she was patient and tried to help him. She provided the piece of advice for the relatives of the people suffering from PTSD: “give them time!” (Call 2009). It needs time to cope with the consequences of the war.
Shelly points out that not all people may understand all the difficulties their family has to get through. It is difficult to explain to them when they have not experienced it. Many people do not know anything about this disease. As far as PTSD has become a widespread diagnosis in our time people should be provided all the necessary information on how to get through it.
The specialists’ point of view is necessary to understand better the symptoms and the consequences of PTSD. Col. David Grossman, a former Army Ranger casts light upon the relation between killing and its influence on the development of PTSD in his interview. He provides some useful pieces of advice for the soldiers who are going to participate in the war and observe killing. These people need training and David Grossman calls it a “bulletproof mind”.
Modern training aims at killing without conscious thought. He points out that military people are taught to kill without a full understanding of the process of killing. More than that he adds that killing is easy at the distance but when the soldier looks at the face of the victim it is more difficult for him to shoot. David Grossman describes the emotional state during the shooting: “at the moment when you want to fire, the forebrain is shut down, the midbrain takes over, and you slam head-on into a resistance to killing your own kind” (Grossman). Some people are very distressed by killing than others and they are more vulnerable to developing PTSD. David Grossman tells about two main reasons for the development of PTSD namely a life-and-death event and the response of a human organism to this event manifesting in helplessness, intense fear, and horror.
The key to prevention is to make peace with memory. Memory has become the person’s enemy in the case of PTSD as far as the event caused the disease is turned over several times. People do not lock down all emotions (Grossman). Such events as killing always have emotional consequences. The human being is created not to kill another human being. It is unnatural and there is no wonder that human organism reacts in such a way as the response to the process of killing.
Some people even vomit after their first killing. Who is responsible for these consequences? Why do people have to kill each other? Factually, the government that sends soldiers to the war is responsible for their lives. As human history shows when the war is wakened nobody thinks over whether the soldiers are ready to kill or not. They just go and kill. Young soldiers are especially sensitive to the process of killing. David Grossman sees the way out in the training as the preparation for such life-and-death events.
Col. Thomas Burke is another interviewee who tells about PTSD and the troops which were affected during Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Thomas Burke says that every war is accompanied by PTSD. There have been certain changes in the treatment of this disease since the human understanding of the work of the brain and psyche has been developed. One of the main problems is that society is not ready to accept these soldiers with PTSD. Our society is not aware enough of this disorder.
PTSD was accepted as a disease in the 70s and it has been researched from that time (Burke). Nowadays it is easier to receive medical help and doctors are able to diagnose this disorder. During the World Wars when this disorder was not researched and explained enough, the soldiers did not understand what was going wrong with them and doctors did not know how to help them. According to the interview, 50% of veterans of the Vietnam War suffer from PTSD.
Thomas Burke highlights that the training before the war is necessary but the preparation for returning home is more valuable (Drummond). When the soldiers are going to go home, the mental health community prepares them providing all the necessary information namely what they should expect from society and how to adapt to the changes in society. As we can see, the traumatic event leaves consequences on a human psychic and it is quite difficult to experience it without medical help.
As we can see from the above said, the feelings of fear and anxiety are normal after the traumatic event but if such a state lasts for a long time, it is necessary to ask for the help of the specialists. People with PTSD may think that they never get back to their regular life and this event will be always in their memory. The help of professionals, the support of relatives and friends, and personal development and control may help to overcome the symptoms of PTSD (Smith and Segal, 2011). PTSD has become to be associated with military people as far as the majority of the cases of PTSD are observed among them (Wilson). Nevertheless, nowadays this disorder has become to be observed among other groups of people where the most vulnerable are women and children.
The interviews with people who deal with PTSD help to understand the real situation better. In the first interview, the wife of the man suffering from PTSD casts light upon the difficulties in their life and means how to cope with these difficulties. The relatives and friends of people with PTSD should be patient. The other two interviews provide the points of view of professionals. They cast light upon the process of killing and its influence on the human mind. The best way to prevent PTSD is to keep peace in the world. But if there is no other way except waging a war, the soldiers should as well as peaceful citizens should be prepared for such traumatic events.
This work provides a lot of useful information for people who have to experience PTSD. Except for general information concerning the basic symptoms of this disorder and its main causes, the means of prevention are provided. More than that, the interviews with people who have had such experience with people who suffered from PTSD helps to consider this disorder more realistic. It should be noted, that nobody is insured from the traumatic events in modern life.
That is why this information is very useful not only for people who have been connected with PTSD but for everyone. If you notice that your reaction or the reaction of your relatives or friends to the traumatic event has lasted for a long time, ask for medical help. The help of psychologists helps to get through this experience and come back to normal life. The attitude of other people to the sufferers is also very important in this case.
People who usually need help and support do not find it in our society and as the result, such people are left alone with their disease. People’s awareness is valuable in this case. People should know all the necessary information concerning this disorder and treat the sufferers kindly and knowingly despite their aggressive reactions. The lack of knowledge is one of the main problems in our society. This work helps to be aware of PTSD that has stroked millions of people nowadays.
Burke, Thomas. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Interview with Thomas Burke. 2005. Web.
Call, John. PTSD in the Military: An Interview of a Military Wife.2009. Web.
Drummond, Katie. Military’s Plan for PTSD: Early Diagnosis Good, Prevention Better. 2009. Web.
Dryden-Edwards, Roxanne. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Web.
Grossman, David. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Interview with David Grossman. 2005. Web.
Pease, Maria. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Web.
Smith, Melinda, and J. Segal. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: symptoms, treatment, and self-help. 2011. Web.
Wilson, Kim. What Are the PTSD Statistics for Military Members? Web.