Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Lin Pyae Hein
What is PTSD? How does it affect a person’s life daily? What are the symptoms of Post traumatic Stress Disorder? What is the history behind PTSD? Understanding the causes and effects of PTSD would not be enough; thus, it is necessary to explore the history behind it and what caused its rise over the years. There are misconceptions among the public about PTSD only being present in the lives of soldiers and war veterans. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a condition with a high chance of existing in the life of the person who has gone through a traumatic experience.
In the past, PTSD has been referred to as “shell shock” during World War 1 and called “combat fatigue” after World War 2. Mentions of similar conditions can be found in nearly in the form of over 2,000 years of historical literature. Many of the ancient battle trauma were described as flashback-like dreams.
PTSD was also noted in several famous plays in history, such as those “Romeo and Juliet.” During the 1800s, conditions similar to PTSD were much
more clearly recorded and described more vividly in detail. There was a pattern of repeated signs in traumatized soldiers, signs of the condition that existed in soldiers who suffered from exhaustion, particularly during the extended engagement time with daily fire. For U.S soldiers who fought in the gruesome battle of the Civil War, conditions of PTSD are still being uncovered to this day in the suicide attempts the soldiers.
Soon after the Civil War ended, cures for PTSD were being researched and one of the men who was pushing for it was Sigmund Freud; his thinking on curing PTSD was known as the “talking cure.” This therapy method involves treating existing mental conditions by diving into the unconscious part of the person’s brain through techniques like dream interpretations and free association. Then, during World War 1, more awareness was brought to PTSD and the traumatic effects of wars.
New forms of treatments started to surface for shell shock. Methods of treatment ranged from psychoanalysis to dangerous treatment of electric shocks. Thankfully in the 1950s, treatment methods improved due to the stigma surrounding the stigma of mental illness and became more humane with safety measures being put in place. However, it was in the 1970s that the modern definition of PTSD was founded. There is countless research about it on Vietnam war veterans, Holocaust survivors, and victims of domestic abuse. The points of these researches were to figure out the effects of the trauma.
The efforts of the research and experiments helped people understand the causes of PTSD and its effects in the 1980s. In the 1990s, newer and many improved forms of treatments started to grow as they developed over the
next 30 years. The symptoms of PTSD are an intrusion, avoidance, alterations in mood/cognition, and alterations in arousal/reactivity. An intrusion is those of intrusive thoughts and often repeated dreams of involuntary memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks to traumatic events.
Dreams or flashbacks are often so traumatic that people are either reliving the experience/experiencing and seeing it with their own eyes, sometimes almost as if they could feel the objects around them.
Avoidance is avoiding reminders of traumatic events such as people, places, activities, objects, and situations. People also avoid talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
Alterations in mood or cognition are signs of inability to remember important aspects of traumatic events, ongoing negative thoughts/feelings, ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, and shame. It may also include losing interest in activities the person previously enjoyed, feeling detached or estranged from others, or being unable to experience positive emotions. Alterations in arousal/reactivity symptoms may include angry outbursts, reckless behavior, suspicions of surrounding areas/people, being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping. To conclude, those are the symptoms of PTSD and the signs of the symptoms.
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