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Example research essay topic: Traumatic Stress Disorder Post Traumatic Stress - 2,126 words

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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or (PTSD) is defined as being caused by exposure to violent events such as rape, domestic violence, child abuse, war, accidents, natural disasters and political torture. PTSD has effected thousands of people and it affects children, adults, men and women. It was thought to be a disorder of war veterans who had been involved in combat, but research studied reveals that PTSD can result in many types of trauma especially those being life-threatening. It has been called shell shock, battle fatigue, and accident neurosis and post rape syndrome. PTSD has often been misunderstood or misdiagnosed although it has specific symptoms and is a serious mental illness. Although according to a recent survey it is a rare mental illness even among Vietnam combat veterans where it is commonly associated.

Although accounts of war neurosis date back to Homers Iliad, the term post-traumatic stress disorder was not used formally until the publication of the third revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM III) in 1980. As a clinical entity, PTSD is defined as the development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically traumatic event that produces fear, helplessness, or horror. Characteristic symptoms involve re-experiencing the event, reduced involvement with the external world, and a variety of autonomic, dysphoric, and / or cognitive symptoms. The symptoms of PTSD may simply be a normal reaction to witnessing a traumatic experience. Only if the symptoms persist longer than three months it is then classified as part of the disorder. Sometimes symptoms arise months or even years later after the event.

Psychiatrists categorize PTSD? s symptoms in three categories: intrusive symptoms, avoidance symptoms and symptoms of hyper-arousal. People suffering from PTSD may have episodes where the traumatic event? intrudes? in their current life.

This can occur in sudden vivid memories that are accompanied by painful emotions. Sometimes the trauma is? re-experienced? . This is a flashback so strong that the person thinks he or she is actually experiencing the trauma again or seeing it before their eyes and at times, re-experiencing occurs in nightmares. Sometimes the re-experience comes in a rush of painful emotions that have no cause. These emotions are grief that causes tears, fear or anger.

Another set of symptoms is called avoidance phenomena. This affects the person? s relationships with others and he or she often avoids close emotional ties with family and friends. The person feels numb and can complete only routine, mechanical tasks. Often they are incapable of performing the necessary energy to respond appropriately in a healthy environment. Frequently, people who suffer from PTSD say they cannot feel emotions especially towards those whom are closest to them.

Emotional numbness and lack of interest in activities may be difficult issues to explain to a therapist. This is vital in children who suffer from PTSD and therefore observers such as family members, parents, teachers are crucial in providing information. A person with PTSD also avoids situations that are reminders of the traumatic event because the symptoms could get worse when he or she is reminded of the original trauma. Over time, he or she can be become so terrified that situations of their daily life are controlled by their attempts to avoid them.

Children suffering from PTSD may show a change towards their future, assuming they are not expected to marry or have a career. The last category of symptoms is called hyper-arousal. He or she has trouble concentrating or remembering current information and may develop insomnia. Therefore, this leads to irritability and causes poor relationships with family and friends. In addition, many suffer from physical symptoms such as perspiring, trouble breathing, heart rate increasing, dizziness or nausea and headaches.

Many people with PTSD develop depression and may at times use alcohol and other drugs as? self-medication? to dull the memory of the trauma. The problems and appeals of specific illegal drugs in combat PTSD is a very big subject that cannot be covered here, but all illegal drugs cause the following problems for combat vets with PTSD.

Expense is the first problem I know there are Vietnam vets who have been very successful financially, but the men I know who have severe, chronic PTSD have a heroic struggle to make ends meet. I know it is stating the obvious, but the first problem of illegal drugs is the expense. The second problem is much subtler, getting illegal drugs involves you in relationships with and obligations to people you normally would not let within a mile. Most of the combat vets I know have a very sharp eye for quality in human beings, and they feel constantly tainted by the people that they get involved with to support their habits. The third problem is that situation of real danger and the presence of weapons gets in the way of healing from PTSD. In this country and time it is not possible to sustain a drug habit over a period of years without running into situations that rekindle PTSD because of their real combat elements.

The fourth problem is the worst using illegal drugs often puts veterans in situations where they bring down other vets. Calling for rescue is a very common way of bringing down other vets, even if the rescue is successful. Users need to be rescued from the medical complications of their habits, from the pressure of debts to dealers, and so on. Vets who have been on rescue missions are put back into combat-mode and are wired for weeks after a rescue.

Sometimes users bring down other vets by asking them for dangerous favors (e. g. , hold this for me till I come for it where this is a parcel of drugs or drug-related weapons or money). Finally this is obvious but it needs to be said if a fellow vet is trying to stay clean, and you are using, that amounts to a standing invitation to break out. Today, Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have effective psychological and pharmacological treatments available for people who suffer from PTSD.

Psychiatrists help people with PTSD by allowing them to cope that the trauma happened to them, without the overwhelming memories and without arranging their lives to avoid being reminded of the trauma. It is crucial to establish safety and a sense of control. This helps him or her feel strong and secure enough to confront the reality of what happened. Also allowing sufferers to realize what he or she witnessed is not their fault in any way so they will not blame themselves. When someone has been badly traumatized, the support of loved ones is critical to their recovery.

Family and friends should not assume the traumatized person can? snap out of it? ; instead allowing time to grieve and mourn is all part of recovery process. Being able to communicate with the feelings of guilt, self-blame, and rage about the trauma usually is effective in helping people put the event behind them. Psychiatrists have several medications such as beta-adrenergic blockers called propranolol, all 2 -adrenergic agonists called clonidine, antidepressants, valproic acid (anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer) and benzodiazepines (sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs).

To make progress in easing flashbacks and painful thoughts and feelings PTSD sufferers need to confront what happened to them and learn to gradually accept it as a part of the past. Therapists have several ways to help with this process. A form of therapy for those who suffer from PTSD is cognitive / behavior therapy. This form of treatment focuses on correcting his or hers painful re-occurring behavior, by teaching him or her relaxation techniques. Using other methods, the patient and therapist explore the patient? s environment to determine what might trigger the PTSD symptoms and work to reduce them and learn new coping skills.

Psychiatrists also treat cases of PTSD by using psychodynamic psychotherapy. This therapy deals with helping he or she examine personal values and how behavior and experience during the traumatic event violated him or her. The goal is to allow the sufferer to distinguish between the conscious and unconscious conflicts that were created. In addition, the individual works to build self-esteem control and develop a reasonable sense of security.

Group therapy can be helpful as a treatment for PTSD. Once someone has been traumatized, they often lose the ability to form healthy relationships especially such traumas as rape and domestic violence. It affects people? s assumption that the world is a safe and secure place and leaves them distrustful. Group therapy allows sufferers to communicate and form social skills allowing them to be able to create healthy and functional relationships. In addition, as in any group therapy it is comforting to know that you are not the only one suffering.

PTSD is a rare mental illness however it does not excuse the fact that it is serious and cannot be ignored. Over the past 15 years, research has provided a major breakthrough of knowledge of how people deal with traumatic experiences. For example, what places put them at risk for the development of long-term problems and ways to cope. Therapists who are receiving specialized training, so they can have the expert knowledge to provide the care individuals suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder need. About 10 percent to 12 percent of women and 5 percent of men who become victims of trauma will suffer from PTSD. Although the syndrome can develop after any life-threatening episode, the symptoms may be more severe and protracted when one person causes another to experience trauma.

The disorder manifests itself in three ways: acute, chronic and delayed onset. Acute PTSD usually resolves in less than three months, but the chronic form can persist for years. In some instances, the onset of PTSD is delayed, emerging at least six months after the traumatic experience. The delayed onset form is the most difficult to treat.

All PTSD sufferers experience intrusive recollections, such as flashbacks or nightmares. Victims may again find themselves drowning in a car, fighting off a rapist, or watching a fellow soldier die in combat. In order to protect themselves or loved ones from further harm, victims may become obsessed with structuring their lives to ensure their safety. Reminders of the trauma, such as anniversaries, often trigger panic, extreme anxiety or guilt. Consequently, PTSD sufferers will go to great lengths to avoid activities, people, and places, thoughts or feelings that are associated with the trauma.

Victims also may forget significant details of the traumatic experience or otherwise minimize its importance, lose interest in enjoyable activities or become emotionally detached from friends and family. Abuse of drugs, alcohol, food or sex to dull emotional pain may occur. People with PTSD can be irritable, easily startled and prone to anger. Insomnia and poor concentration can make the simplest tasks seem arduous.

All of this anguish takes a physical toll. PTSD sufferers seek more medical attention than the general population, yet they are reluctant to request mental health assistance. Fortunately, successful treatments are available using individual or group therapy, medication or a combination of both, depending on the severity of symptoms. Therapy begins with the establishment of trust and safety.

Both are crucial when patients are encouraged to re visualize the trauma during treatment. Clinicians also may use a variety of anxiety management strategies such as relaxation and social skills training, biofeedback, and helping patients replace distorted thinking about themselves and their world with more accurate assessments. Drug treatment can help reduce nightmares, flashbacks and social withdrawal. Depending on a patients symptoms and medical condition, clinicians may use either selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine (Prozac), or monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as phenazine (Nail). 1.

Key, Craig. , Et. al. The Viet Vet Survival Guide. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985 2. Manning; Curtis; McMillen. , Stress: Living and Working in a Changing World Duluth, Whole Person Associates, 1999 3.

Cooper, M. D. , Kenneth H. Can Stress Heal? Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997 4. Zur, Judith?

From PTSD to voices in context: from? experience-far? to an? experience-near? understanding of responses to war and atrocity across cultures. ? The International Journal of Social Psychiatry. , V. 42 (Winter 96? ) p. 305 - 17 5.

Iacobucci, Janet, Maynard, Joyce, ? My Husband? s Past Almost Destroyed our Family? Good Housekeeping. , v. 221 (Oct. ? 95) p. 82 6. ?

Non-combat-related post traumatic stress. ? USA Today (Periodical). , v. 123 (Apr. ? 95) p. 11 - 12 7. Harvey-List, Terri. ; Tidwell. Romania, ? Effects of the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest: posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology among law enforcement officers. ? The Social Science Journal. , C. 34 no 2 (1997) p. 171 - 83. 8.

National Center for PTSD? Research and Education on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? web (used multiple pages from site)


Free research essays on topics related to: people who suffer, traumatic stress disorder, hyper arousal, post traumatic stress, family and friends

Research essay sample on Traumatic Stress Disorder Post Traumatic Stress

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