About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder refers to any severe anxiety that follows a psychologically traumatic event. It is commonly associated with military personnel and others in high risk, high stress professions, but it can follow any event that presents a grave threat to life, health or personhood. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) typically includes reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares, as well as intense arousal from stimuli that recall the trauma and an attempt to avoid those stimuli. Diagnosis requires that these precipitating events last more than a month and cause significant impairment to occupation, social or other areas of function. Even “lesser” traumas such a bullying or physical abuse can trigger the stress disorder. Traumatic events even at a young age may be recalled later and symptoms of PTSD begin.
Because Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is primarily event dependent (though there can be genetic factors that worsen the condition), treatment begins with understanding the root cause of the stress disorder. Psycotherapeutic programs that have shown success in treating stress disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Many studies indicate that group therapy may be more helpful than individual therapy in reducing the effects of post traumatic stress. Medications, including anti-depressants and anti-convulsants are sometimes used, but typically play a more minor role in treatment.
Because of the repeated nature of episodes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, parents of teens who have suffered a traumatic experience are encouraged to begin treatment as quickly as possible. Some studies have indicated that early intervention, including psychological debriefing can lessen or even prevent the onset of PTSD. Other preventative treatment includes the use of cortisol to impact some of the psychical symptoms of the disorder.