Post Traumatic Stress
Post Traumatic Stress is not a new thing. In WWII we called it shell shock . . . Studies indicate that three factors are necessary for PTS to develop.
1. A person possesses certain risk factors for the condition. “Changes in two brain areas the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulated cortex (dACC) may predispose people . . . Both of these regions are involved in feeling and expressing fear, and both appear to be overactive in people . . . even before they develop the condition.”
2. A person is exposed to a traumatic event such as: combat exposure, sexual or physical assault, terrorist attack, serious accident, natural disasters. It is common for people to experience stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone will get PTS. It is still not known why. Some contributing factors are:
- How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
- If you were injured or lost someone important to you
- How close you were to the event
- How strong your reaction was
- How much you felt in control of events
- How much help and support you got after the event
Symptoms of PTS
PTS symptoms may start soon after the traumatic event or may appear months or years later. There are four types of symptoms of PTS.
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Characterized by bad memories or nightmares. These can also be called flashbacks.
- Avoiding situations that are reminders of the event: Characterized by trying to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event; to include talking or thinking about the event.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: There is a change in a person’s perception of self and others characterized by fear, guilt, or shame. There may also be a loss of interest in activities that formerly were enjoyable accompanied by emotional numbness. This is another way to avoid memories.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): Characterized by jittery feelings, hyper alert state and the presence of danger. Often this causes trouble concentrating or sleeping.
PTS is often marked by clear physical and psychological symptoms like depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other physical and mental health problems. It can cause difficulties in social or family life, occupational instability, marital problems, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.