Post traumatic Stress Disorder

INTRODUCTION:

  • PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops in response to a stressful event or situation of exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature

SYMPTOMS:

  • The symptoms of PTSD can start after a delay of weeks, or even months. They usually appear within 3 months after the traumatic event.
  • Some people get better within 6 months. Others may have the illness for much longer.
  • Re-experiencing the event through flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoiding people, places or thoughts that bring back memories of the trauma
  • Feeling angry & unable to trust people
  • Social withdrawal
  • Numbness
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration

CONSEQUENCES:

  • Physiological outcomes
  • Neurobiological changes (alterations in brainwave activity and in functioning of processes such as memory and fear response)


  1. Psychophysiological changes
  2. Hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system,
  3. Sleep disturbances


  • Increased neurohormonal changes that result in increased stress & depression
  • Headache
  • Stomach or digestive problems
  • Dizziness

Psychological outcomes

  • Depression
  • Other anxiety disorders (such as phobias, panic, and social anxiety)
  • Splitting off from the present
  • Eating disorders

Self-destructive behaviors

  • Low self esteem
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Self-injury
  • Risky sexual behaviors leading to unplanned pregnancy or STDs, including HIV

TREATMENT:

  • Cognitive BehavioralTherapy (CBT)
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac & Zoloft

Exam Question
  • Recall of events and avoidance of similar experiences in PTSD
  • The principal features of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are painful re-experiencing of the event (reliving experience, frightening dream with unrecognisable content in children), avoidance (avoiding the things or places involved in the trauma), emotional numbing and constant hyper arousal (anger, irritability, difficultly falling asleep etc).
  • SSRIs are drug of choice for Post traumatic stress disorder
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