Post Tramatic Stress Disorder

Nicole Jones
English Writing 2
Ellen Kanavy
07, October 2010

The History and Effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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There are many consequences to war and one of the most painful, deadly, and heartbreaking for
individuals who suffers from this disorder. It is very rarely warned about, recognized, or even
concerned about disorder. When most people think about war, we think about the money spent and
the effect it will have on our economy, the countries that will be left in ruins, the lives that will end, and
the effects the toll will take on the families. However, we rarely hear about the effects the war will have
on the Men and Women that make it back home safely. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not something
that individuals are educated about. It is not something young soldiers are warned about at the
recruiter??™s office as they eagerly sign up to defend their country. PTSD is not a new psychiatric disorder,
its history goes back to the civil war. However, it was not until about 20 years ago that it was named
PTSD and added to the DSM as a disorder. Unfortunately there is not many effective ways at preventing
PTSD, but due to the large history of it, the common symptoms that are shared among sufferers, there
are treatments for this disorder and many support groups.
PTSD has been documented and has affected many soldier??™s lives for as far back as the Civil War
and probably father back then that. ???Prior to the recognition of PTSD it was called battle fatigue,
Combat fatigue, Shell Shock, and Soldier??™s Heart??? (McGoldrick, Daniel P. ???History of treatment for PTSD???.
September, 10 2010. Web. 04 October, 2010). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined
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as ???an emotional illness that develops when a person is exposed to a highly dangerous, very terrifying,
Possibly life-threatening event??¦??? (American Psychological Association. DSM IV. Web. 04 October, 2010).
Although individuals recognize other individuals with PTSD as being soldiers in war, PTSD is also
Prevalent in any victim. Any type of traumatic event an individual is faced with that is not considered
normal human behavior could invoke PTDS in that person and if left untreated could have serious
consequences to that person.
During the Civil War when PTSD was known as Soldiers Heart and was thought to have been
caused because the soldier??™s were homesick and also were not used to the rigors of war. The soldier??™s
were not treated because it was not a recognized disorder and were told to toughen up. They were
thought to be weak individuals. During this time a doctor named Dr. Jacob Mendez Da Costa had
named PTSD, Soldier??™ Heart because he was seeing heart problems and fatigue in solder??™s in war. He
named it this because he attributed the heart problems with their heavy hearts, caused from being away
from home and their loved ones. The treatment at this time consisted of rest and then were sent back
to the front lines, assumed cured. At the time of WWI and WWII, the name Soldiers Heart was changed
to Shell Shock. ???There were two different labels assigned to those who were suffering with Shell Shock???
(McGoldrick, Daniel P. ???The History of Treatment for PTSD???. September, 10 2010. Web.
04 October, 2010). The two different categories were Shell Shock W (wounded) and Shell Shock S
(sickness). The name Shell Shock came about because it was believed that men were suffering from
PTSD because they were traumatized by the shell explosions. Shell Shock W individuals were
men that were actually physically injured by the shell explosions and were the only ones who were
released from war with their pensions. If you were categorized as Shell Shock S, you were treated with
PIE Principle, which is the same treatment used during the Civil War. The soldier??™s were allowed to rest
for 3-10 days and then were returned to active duty. However, if you were unable to return to active
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duty due to psychological problems, the soldier was stripped of their soldier status, and also did not
receive their pensions. During the 1980??™s, the American Psychiatry Association officially named this
disorder Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it was added to the DSM III. Since then the DSM has a
definitive definition for PTSD, specific symptoms that must be met, and medications and treatments for
the disorder.
There are many individuals who are at risk for PTSD. Some of the biggest risk factors besides
war is being female, enduring physical and sexual abuse, longer duration of trauma, history of mental
disorder, and educational and economic level. ???Firefighters, police, paramedics, and medical
professionals experience traumatic events on a regular basis. PTSD in these groups after a disaster is,
however, lower than in the general public??? (???Common PTSD sufferers???. Web.
04 October, 2010). Although these groups are less likely to suffer from this disease because they have
been exposed to bouts of trauma every day, they are not immune from getting it. Any traumatic event
can trigger this disorder, but the most common cause is military combat, muggings, assaults, natural
disasters, rapes or sexual assaults, serious accidents, and most recently added terrorist??™s attacks. The
DSM IV states that an individual must meet certain guidelines and criteria to be diagnosed with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. All of the criteria must be met in order to be diagnosed. There are four
causes and effects that must be going on with the patient. ???First a traumatic event occurred in which
the person witnessed or experienced actual or threatened death or serious injury and responded with
intense fear, horror, or helplessness. Second, on exposure to memory cues, the person has
reexperiencing symptoms, such as intrusive recollections, nightmares, flashbacks, or psychological
distress. Third, the patient avoids trauma-related stimuli and feels emotionally numb. Fourth, the
person has increased arousal, manifested by hyper vigilance, irritability, or difficulty sleeping??? (Travis
Lange, Jennifer. ???Primary Care of Post traumatic Stress Disorder???. September, 2000. Web. 04,
Jones Pg 4

October 2010). It is also very common for sufferers to experience alcohol and substance abuse,
depression, anxiety, insomnia. ,memory issues, and vivid nightmares. There are three categories of
symptoms that PTSD sufferers will fall in to. They are avoidance, hyper-arousal, and intrusion. All PTSD
sufferers will fall into at least one of these categories and possibly all three. PTSD victims who fall into
the avoidance category has feelings of numbness and avoid any close emotional ties with family and
friend??™s and also do not allow themselves to make new ones. Depression is common among sufferers of
avoidance. Victims of hyper-arousal usually suffer a lot of insomnia and are always on alert, fearful,
paranoid, and irritable, because they are always terrified of reliving the trauma. The last category,
intrusion, got the name because of the ???intrusive??? flashbacks of the trauma that caused the PTSD. All of
the three categories that are suffered is tragic, dangerous to the sufferer, and also severely affect the
patient??™s mental stability. However, out of all of the three categories, the intrusion category is the most
severe and intense.
???Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment can be very effective and help you regain a sense of
control over your life. With successful Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment, you can also feel
better about yourself and learn ways to cope if any symptoms arise again. Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder treatment often includes both medications and psychotherapy. This combined approach can
help improve your symptoms and teach you skills to cope better with the traumatic event and it??™s
aftermath??? (??? Treatment and drugs??? The The Mayo Clinic for medical education and
research. 10 April, 2010. Web. 04 October, 2010). It is not recommended that you do either therapy
separately because it works best in combination. The most common medications that are used with this
disorder is SSRI??™s, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, sleep medications, and high blood pressure
medication. Some of the more common psychotherapy used is Cognitive therapy, Exposure therapy,
and Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Cognitive therapy is talk therapy is a talk
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therapy and teaches the individual a way to get out of their unsafe moment. This is a way to get out of
the emotional mind where PTSD resides in the brain and moves you to the cognitive part of the brain.
These skills only provide immediate and temporary relief to get through the current painful moment.
The grounding technique is commonly used with cognitive therapy. In the grounding technique, the
individual has to perform tasks that involve cognitive thinking such as repeating your social
security number or the alphabet backwards. The next therapy is exposure therapy, which is behavior
change therapy. This therapy is about changing certain behaviors while you are being exposed to stimuli
that reminds you of the traumatic event. The patient is exposed to the stimuli in order to learn ways to
deal with the feelings and trauma. EMDR therapy is one that is most commonly used and very effective.
???This type of therapy combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you
process traumatic memories??? (???Treatment and drugs???. the Mayo Clinic for medical
Education and research. 10 April, 2010. Web. 04 October, 2010).
It is also recommended that anyone who is suffering from PTSD join a support group or group
therapy. Many people do not join these groups because that means they have to face and talk about
their trauma when they have been suppressing the feelings for some time. Group therapy teaches the
individual the much needed coping skills such as anger and stress management, relaxation and
mindfulness techniques. Besides support groups that focus on coping skills, some are just trauma based,
this is very effective, but could also be very painful. Unlike other public support groups such as
Alcoholics Anonymous and Over Eaters Anonymous, these support groups are not open groups and you
cannot just walk in to one. In order to be involved in one of these groups, you must go through an
interview and screening process because of the sensitivity matter with these groups. There is also
online groups that focus on PTSD, but for the obvious reasons, they have their setbacks. Family and
friends are also encouraged to be part of the PTSD sufferer??™s treatment plan. The more support
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someone receives, the better the outcome of their treatment will be.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very serious and prevalent psychological disease and
although a definitive cure has not been established within the psychiatry world, the medications and
therapies have improved the lives of millions of sufferers. For many years individuals with this disorder
were stigmatized as being crazy and as the prevalence of the disorder in our troops are becoming
known, it has become easier to treat them. The more known and acceptable the disorder becomes, the
more willing people are to admit that something is not right. As in the literary piece, ???The Soldier??™s
Home??? the character Krebs has just returned home from war. He is having a hard time adjusting to
Civilian life and may be experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. During this time, this
disorder is not a recognizable disorder and nobody including himself really understands what is going on
with him. He seems to be experiencing the avoidance symptom of PTSD. He cannot identify with
anyone and doesn??™t want to be around anyone. He also seems to be pushing people away from him,
such as his mother. His mother asks him ???don??™t you love your mother, dear boy??? (191) He stated back
to her ???no??? (191) which makes me believe that he sufferers from avoidance. Unfortunately, since PTSD
is not a common disorder at this time, Krebs does not get the help that is offered to individuals today.
There is a lot of help out there for a person who is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I am
confident that as the years go on and more people and symptoms emerge, the American Psychiatric
Association will develop more techniques and possibly a cure for this disorder.

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Works Cited

1. McGoldrick, Daniel P. ???History of treatment for PTSD??? 10 September, 2010. Web. 04 October, 2010

2. American Psychological Association. DSM IV. Web. 04 October, 2010

3. ???Common PTSD Sufferers???. Web. 04 October, 2010

4. Travis Lange, Jennifer. ???Primary care of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder???. September, 2000. Web. 04 October, 2010

5. ???Treatment and Drugs???. The Mayo Clinic for medical education and research. 10 April, 2010. Web. 04 October, 04, 2010

6. Hemingway, Ernest. ???The Soldier??™s Home???. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin??™s, 2011. 191. Print

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