Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Gary, someone that has experienced PTSD, acute anxiety, and depression since 2010 states, “I didn’t cope with it very well physically, and I didn’t cope with it very well mentally.It was a massive change to my lifestyle and how I lived, and the impact of that has been felt to this day.” (Time to Change, 2015). His goal is to communicate about his struggles with mental health and how his friends and family supported him throughout his journey (Time to Change, 2015).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as a mental health condition caused by a traumatic event that a person experienced or witnessed (“PTSD”, 2017). According to the article Everything You Need to Know About PTSD, over 30% of the Vietnam veterans and 7.8% of all americans are predicted to experience PTSD at least once in their lives. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the symptoms, causes and effects presented in a patient with PTSD. There are several ways to diagnose PTSD such as doing a physical exam and performing psychological evaluations (“PTSD”, 2017). However, the most common way to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder is to observe the development of symptoms over time.

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One of the symptoms that the body experiences is having flashbacks and nightmares about the same trauma repeatedly (“Symptoms of PTSD”, 2010) Avoiding certain places or people because of the reminder of the certain trauma, and having difficulty sleeping or even being jumpy about everything (“Symptoms of PTSD”, 2010). It is very important to recognize these three main symptoms since most people don’t remember the things that they do while they are sleeping or while they are having flashbacks. This can become dangerous for themselves and for the people around them, but mostly if they have a violent past. This is a crucial problem because people that are showing symptoms tend to use alcohol or drugs as a way of coping, which again, harms themselves and their loved ones (“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, 2016). Adding on to this, it is important for people to know that this disorder doesn’t only happen in adults. Loads of people think that the only ones who get PTSD are veterans since it is what the media documents the most.

However, it is also extremely common on people who experience physical or sexual assault, any sort of accident, or even witnessing a friend or family being abused (“National Center for PTSD”, 2016). In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will develop PTSD at some point of their lives (“National Center for PTSD”, 2016). This is important since there isn’t a specific aspect in a person or some specific events that need to happen in order to get PTSD.

It is important for people to know that everyone can be affected by this so that if it is happening to someone close to your family, you can know how to react to this problem correctly. Knowing about the symptoms of PTSD is really important so that everyone can know when their loved ones are being affected. However, there are a lot of cases where people that have PTSD either don’t accept that they have it, or they refuse to get the correct treatment (“PTSD”, 2017). This is why it is important to know what happens to the brain when diagnosed with PTSD. There are three major parts of the brain that are affected by this disorder: the amygdala, hippocampus, and the frontal lobe. The Amygdala is the part of the brain that decides when to react, sends out danger signals, and also stores certain parts of the traumatic events such as sights, sound, smells, and more.

The amygdala also interferes with a person’s sleep and it does not allow them to keep calm in a situation where there is no specific danger to anyone. This relates to PTSD because it causes a person to develop anxiety, hypervigilance, and the tendency of being easily frightened (“The Anatomy of PTSD”, 2014). Adding on, the hippocampus creates and stores the memory. This part of the brain is important because when the patient is experiencing flashbacks about a certain traumatic event, the amygdala reacts as if the event was really happening and the hippocampus can’t calm down the amygdala since the brain believes that it is real. All of this can cause a lot of confusion and disorientation, as well as nightmares which makes it difficult to get a good sleep and eventually, leads to having insomnia (“The Anatomy of PTSD”, 2014). The hippocampus can permanently shrink when the brain is experiencing PTSD, which is why it is critical to seek professional help when noticing any of the symptoms related with this illness.

Finally, the frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls behavior, emotions, and impulses. This part of the brain is essential because it is the part of the brain that tells the amygdala to calm down once the danger has passed (after the flashbacks or hallucinations are over). This is something that the hippocampus can’t do, which is why the frontal lobe steps in (“The Anatomy of PTSD”, 2014). There is no clear reason of why some people get PTSD and why some people don’t. It mostly depends on the person and on their body’s ability to handle stress hormones.

50% of all PTSD cases are self cured within 3 months of the initial symptoms and it is still unknown why this happens (“Everything to Know About PTSD”, 2018). One of the main reasons why people often don’t get better as quickly as others is because of Cognitive which is constant negative thoughts that are the result of a lot of stress, which causes the recovery process to slow down (“Everything to Know About PTSD”, 2018). There is no known cure for PTSD, but there are treatments that demonstrate improvement. It is significant for people to know that the treatment will not actually make the traumatic event disappear, it just makes it easier for people to deal with. There is a psychiatric drug treatment, but a lot of people argue that it is dangerous and causes suffering (“What is PTSD”, 2015). The article of Citizens Commission on Human Rights states that “At this time only ? of active troops use alternative therapy, but half of all veterans depend on complementary or alternative treatment”.

There has been a lot of research projects that focus on other healthier treatments and healthcare for patients with PTSD, and they have spent over 65 million dollars in these studies (“What is PTSD”, 2015). Even though this psychiatric drug is something that exists and seems to be working on a small percentage, a lot of scientists and doctors still believe that talking to a psychologist that is a specialist in this area, is the best way to get better. To conclude, this disease is very unpredictable, and there are still many things to be discovered by scientists, such as a better treatments and to find a better cause as to why this happens to certain people. However, it is important for people to understand the main ideas concerning PTSD in order to seek treatment as soon as possible.