Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a relatively new diagnosis that was associated with survivors of war when it was first introduced. Its diagnosis was met largely with skepticism and dismissal by the public of the validity of the illness. PTSD was only widely accepted when it was included as a diagnosis in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) of the American Psychiatric Association. PTSD is a complex mental disorder that develops in response to exposure to a severe traumatic event that stems a cluster of symptoms. Being afflicted with the disorder is debilitating, disrupting an individual’s ability to function and perform the most basic tasks.
Who gets PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop at any age, from childhood years to adulthood with any cultural, social, and economic background. Any individual that goes through a particular traumatic event can experience great stress and anxiety that can then develop into a post-traumatic stress disorder. Protective service men and women, victims of rape, abuse, and torture, as well as victims of natural disasters, accidents are examples of a mass variety of individuals that are touched by the post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD can be caused by witnessing or by being part of a traumatic event such as combat, torture, abuse, natural disaster, motor-vehicle accident and even a sudden loss of a loved one. Many factors play an important role to determining whether an individual is pre-disposed to PTSD. Risk factors are those that contribute to a person to have a higher prevalence of developing PTSD, while resilience factors help the individual to overcome trauma.
Since not all individuals exposed to a traumatic event develops a post-traumatic stress disorder, it shows that exposure to an extreme stressor is not a lone cause to the development of PTSD. Several different factors can contribute to how a person responds to a traumatic stressor and scientist and theoreticians have found other factors can determine individuals who are more likely to develop PTSD when exposed to a catastrophic event. These factors can include their past exposure to trauma, their mental health history, their families’ history of psychological problem, age, gender, biological makeup, social network, as well accessibility to mental health treatment facilities.
An individual with a strong social support before and after the traumatic event is likely to have a positive adjustment after the trauma than an individual who has a poor connection and attachment with their social circle. Some studies on heritability of the disorder shows a small hereditary component that predisposes a person to the disorder contributes to increase their probability of exposure to trauma. “For example a hereditary deficit in problem-solving capacity may contribute to higher levels of exposure to potentially traumatic stressors...