Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Essay
Post traumatic stress disorder is an extreme psychological condition that affects the victim’s mental behavior following an exposure to a traumatizing event that affects him or her or that affects someone else. The victims usually are overwhelmed by intense fear and unable to cope with the situation she or he is undergoing. In addition the patient is constantly filled with severe anxiety. This condition is diagnosed when the victim displays acute stress disorders for more than one month.
From a biological perspective, studies have found that there are alterations in the structure and functions of the amygdale and hippocampus. The severe anxiety associated with the post-traumatic disorder can be linked to genetics, chemistry of the brain and fight –flight response of the body. Brain chemistry is involved in regulation of mood and behavior as a result of chemical messenger’s effect on the nervous system. Some neurotransmitters trigger behaviors while others inhibit them. The work of the neurotransmiter is to slow down the rate of brain functioning; gamma-aminoburity acid is responsible for the transmissions. It may not work normally in victims of anxiety resulting to a feeling of excess fear or over activation. According to Charles (2005), the sympathetic nervous system is highly triggered during fight-flight response whenever someone senses danger. Either, one stays to fight back or seeks safety by fleeing away. In victims with post traumatic disorder the amygdale is hyper active because of the misconception of sensory signals thus hyper activating the sympathetic nervous system into a fight-flight response (Charles, 2005).
Genetics also has a link to the extent to which an individual suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Women are believed to be prone to post traumatic stress because of the gene variant to the risk. The affected gene is linked to estrogen alterations which triggers stress responses. Therefore women are more at risk of suffering from PTSD than men because of modulation of receptor pathway by estrogenic hormone (Halligan, 2006).
Many people may recover in a short period but in some cases the condition may persist due to cognitive conditioning of the traumatic events that the victim suffered. The post traumatic stress disorder persists when the trauma is processed by the victim in manner that results to a more serious existing threat. The sense of a danger arises because of; extremely negative judgments of the trauma, a disruption of autobiographical memory characterized with bad explanations and contextualization, strong linking memory and strong perceptions to priming. Change of the negative judgment and the memory associated with the trauma is prevented by a line of problematic behaviors and cognitive strategies (Ehlers, 2006).
Socio-cultural perspectives view the mental disorder as a result of social cultural and economic factors. The studies show that people who have lived in poverty for long have higher exposure to post traumatic stress disorder than the middle and upper class individuals. Cases of these disorders increase in crisis of high unemployment rates. The change in world population from country regions to cities can also cause high levels of mental disorders. The cities are characterized by crowds, noise, pollution and social isolation. Rapid social shift that is affecting people throughout the world exposes one to the disorder. Post traumatic disorder is likely to affect victims of wars, genocides, landslides, hurricanes and violence.
Post traumatic disorder symptoms normally begin within 3 month of the traumatic incident. In some victims it may appear after some years of the trauma. The symptoms of the disorder are categorized into 3 groups, namely: intrusive memories, evasion and numbing, high levels of nervousness and emotional hyper arousal. Symptoms of intrusive memories include; constant flash backs of the trauma, night mares of the trauma that happened (Ehlers, 2006).
Symptoms of evasion and numbing include; struggling to forget the event, or talking too much about the traumatizing event, feeling numb emotionally, avoiding the interests that were most likable, feelings of hopeless future, memory disorders, inability to concentrate, difficulty in sustaining close relationships. Symptoms of anxiety and higher emotional arousal include; irritability and anger feelings of guilt and shame, engaging in self damaging behavior such as consumption of alcohol, sleeping problems, easily being frightened or upset, hearing and imagining things that do not exist (Ehlers, 2006).
Treatment of post traumatic stress disorder starts with a detailed examination and development of treatment procedure that caters for the needs of the victim. Most treatment includes psychotherapy clinics attended by the survivor. The treatment will be effective when the victim feels safe from the threat he or she underwent. The victims are educated about their condition and those around him or her need to be educated of the disorder in addition to teaching the survivors to deal with post traumatic memories and anything that remind them of the event. Exposing the victim to similar event via imagery would let the victim experience the incidence in safer environment. The feelings of shame and guilt are examined and resolved. Medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed by the specialist to help the victim relax and sleep. Family therapies are appropriate follow up treatment to help the family know about the condition the victim is undergoing so as not to act with anger or fear but understand what is going on and be ready to help the victim heal with love and care.