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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms And Treatment

1427 words - 6 pages

In 1980, the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) first came into existence in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III). Only in 1987 did the DSM series make reference to traumatized children. The first major studies of the effects of large traumas on children were Bloch's 1956 study of the effect of a tornado in Mississippi, Lacey's 1972 study of the effects of an avalanche on a Welsh school, Newman's 1976 work on the Buffalo Creek disaster and Terr's 1979 research on the Chowchilla bus kidnapping. Psychological "trauma" is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as an experience beyond "the range of usual human experience," that "would be markedly distressing to almost anyone, and is usually experienced with intense fear, terror and helplessness" (DSM-IIIR, p. 247). Some examples include a serious threat to one's life (or that of one's children, spouse, etc.), rape, military combat, natural or accidental disasters, and torture. Sexual activity with an adult would be an example of a traumatic experience for a child.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as previously defined, is caused by an overwhelming event outside the range of ordinary human experience, such as combat, a natural disaster, or a physical assault. The symptoms include nightmares and other forms of re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance of situations and activities that arouse memories of the event, emotional numbness and detachment, pessimism, sleep problems, impulsive anger, jumpiness, and difficulty in concentration. There are many symptoms but there are also many affects to the functioning of an individual. The functioning defects can send an individual into crisis.
Memory loss is common among people suffering from PSTD. People may use their natural ability to dissociate to avoid conscious awareness of a traumatic experience while the trauma is occurring. Dissociation is defined as a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment. The disturbance may be sudden or gradual, transient or chronic (Abess, M.D.). For some people, conscious thoughts and feelings, or "memories," about the traumatic event may come back at a later date (Noll). People with PTSD inevitably experience extremes of recall regarding traumatic circumstances or avoidance of thoughts and feelings about the event. Some people say they are "haunted" by memories of traumatic experiences which intrude on and disrupt their daily lives. They often can't get the "pictures" of the trauma out of their heads. They may have recurring nightmares, "flashbacks," or they may even relive the trauma as if it was happening in present time. It is also common for traumatized people to make deliberate efforts to avoid thoughts or feelings about the traumatic event and to avoid activities or situations which may remind them of the event. In some severe cases, avoidance of reminders of the...

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