Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A serious mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic and/or terrifying event. It is a lasting consequence that causes fear, helplessness, and horror when a person is subject to physical harm or threatened.
PTSD can develop after experiencing events such as a terrorist attack, exposed to combat, injured in an accident, sexually or physically abused as a child or as an adult, or lived through natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, tornados, or floods. A sudden death of a loved one can also cause PTSD. Many scientists believe that genes play a role in creating memories, and differences in genes or brain areas can be a platform for PTSD, but no symptoms develop. Moreover, childhood trauma, head injuries, mental illnesses can increase the risk of PTSD. The development of PTSD depends on the intensity and duration of the trauma, level of reaction, and support after the event.
Re-experiencing symptoms include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. Avoidance symptoms include evading places, events, objects; feeling emotionally numb; worried and guilty; depressed; and not interested activities. Hyperarousal symptoms such as startling easily, feeling tense or on edge, and sleeplessness are triggered by anything that reminds the event.
Anyone can get PTSD, including children. Women are more likely to get it, and it may run in the family. Risk factors for PTSD are living through threatening and dangerous events or traumas, history of mental illness, getting and seeing people injured, feeling horror, extreme fear, and helplessness, lack of social support, and extra stress after the event. There are some resilience factors which help reduce getting PTSD such as support from family, friends and groups; feeling good about actions taken during trauma; coping strategies; and acting effectively during a traumatic event.
PTSD symptoms usually begin three months after the event and could last for more than a month. The individual should at least experience one re-experience symptom; three avoidance symptoms; and two hyperarousal symptoms. Some individuals with PTSD recover but for others it becomes chronic. PTSD usually goes along with depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorder. PTSD can be treated with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and with antidepressants which help control the symptoms.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traffic accidents: According to the Association for Safe International Travel (ASIRT), in the United States, over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year; 2.35 million are injured or disabled; and in 2003, motor vehicles accidents were the leading cause of PTSD. (Blanchard & Hickling, 2003) A review paper by Marina Yuabova and Michael Parrinello, discusses the need to identify and diagnose PTSD by basic health care professionals, and the use of different signs and psychological processes to...