Friday, February 6, 2009

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

We call some people odd for their unusual actions and words. Some are acceptable, some are not. There must have been a deeper reason that causes them to act that way. One common explanation for this behavior is the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A patient of mine caused me to inquire about this disorder. Hoping I could somehow correlate her case with the disorder. Here's what i found.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events that threatened or caused grave physical harm.

It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. This stressor may involve someone's actual death, a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, or threat to physical or psychological integrity, overwhelming psychological defenses.

In some cases it can also be from profound psychological and emotional trauma, apart from any actual physical harm. Often, however, the two are combined.

Diagnostic symptoms include reexperience such as flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, increased arousal such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilance. Per definition, the symptoms last more than 6 months and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (e.g. problems with work and relationships.)


PTSD is believed to be caused by psychological trauma. Possible sources of trauma includes encountering or witnessing childhood or adult physical, emotional or sexual abuse.[1] In addition, encountering or witnessing an event perceived as life-threatening such as physical assault, adult experiences of sexual assault, accidents, drug addiction, illnesses, medical complications, or the experience of, or employment in occupations exposed to war (such as soldiers) or disaster (such as emergency service workers).

Traumatic events that may cause PTSD symptoms to develop include violent assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, torture, being a hostage, prisoner of war or concentration camp victim, experiencing a disaster, violent automobile accidents or getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. Children may develop PTSD symptoms by experiencing sexually traumatic events like age-inappropriate sexual experiences.

Witnessing traumatic experiences or learning about these experiences may also cause the development of PTSD symptoms. The amount of dissociation that follows directly after a trauma predicts PTSD: individuals who are more likely to dissociate during a traumatic event are considerably more likely to develop chronic PTSD.


Charmaine said...

My heart goes out to people with this disorder. I know what it is like to have expereienced prolonged stress and traumatic events and discovered that watching beautiful scenery with nature sounds, beautiful music and Alpha, Theta and Delta waves can be very effective and help one regain peace of mind. So I am producing a series of scenic relaxation videos to help people with PTSD, anxiety or depression. If you'd like to watch a short video preview visit

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Yes, PTSD is very difficult to deal with; I know because I have it. I agree with Charmaine that music can have a profoundly calming affect on the mind.
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope...
Ch. 1 is online!

Michele Rosenthal said...

Weng - Thank you so much for this post! Not enough people know about PTSD in terms of being able to recognize it.

I'm a trauma survivor who struggled with undiagnosed, chronic-extreme PTSD for 25 years. If any of the doctors or therapists I saw during that time had known about PTSD they would have been able to recognize my classic symptoms and could have ended my suffering.

The good news is that PTSD is treatable and often curable. I am now into my second year of being 100% PTSD-free. I write a healing PTSD blog ( where I run a free healing PTSD workshop.

I'd be very interested in hearing your point of view about PTSD and your professional experience with it. If you'd like to write a guest post for the blog, please let me know.

In the meantime, please keep spreading the word about what PTSD is and how people struggling with it can be helped. We need people like you to help people like us. Thank you!

nwtsbtr said...

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