Post-Traumatic depth research on post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder

            Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common disorder that can develop in individuals
who have had one or more traumatic
experiences. The exposure of experiences resulting from
trauma is not uncommon. Many people do not develop symptoms until later on
following an incident. There is no true way to tell if symptoms will last for
months or sometimes years once they begin to appear. In this essay, I will present in depth research
on post-traumatic stress disorder. I will provide assistance in obtaining a deeper
understanding of the basis of PTSD. This
research report will cover biological correlations of this disorder,
psychological aspects, developmental aspects and social aspects.

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From a
biological standpoint, an individual diagnosed with this condition experiences
psychosomatic stress, which can lead to physiological responses as well. Stress
is a natural response to stimuli. This could be good or bad, however, specifically
speaking to PTSD, this disorder is a negative type of stress that causes the
equilibrium of the body to be off balance. For example, individuals diagnosed
with PTSD generally show signs of unfamiliarity, fear, anger, tension,
increased heart rate, lack of awareness, etc. in unusual settings. There are
three focal areas in the brain that are triggered by stress. The amygdala,
hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex each play their role of significance. The
amygdala is responsible for
emotion, survival instincts, and memory. The hippocampus function allows
the storage and retrieval of memory, aiding in long term memorization. The prefrontal cortex facilitates the
removal of negative emotion. “It has been theorized that the vmPFC exerts
inhibition on the amygdala, and that a defect in this inhibition could account
for the symptoms of PTSD.” (Koenigs, Grafman. 2009)

            Increased stress is associated with a larger amygdala and hippocampus
response to stress-related content. (Lecture) A common theory displayed with neuroscience
models of PTSD in human beings is that the amygdala is hyper reactive to
incoming stimuli. As identified earlier in this essay, the amygdala is a key
structure in fear. Its hyperactivity is believed to cause fearful or negative responses,
consequently the symptoms of PTSD, due to its association with the disruption of
homeostasis in the body. Since this hypo activity is present in the amygdala,
it is theoretically more difficult for the amygdala to be inhibited sufficiently
by areas of the prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, deficits in hippocampal processing
result in a failure to process and recognize responses.

            Extensive
research on fear conditioning has been achieved in order to understand the
neurobiological effects of PTSD. Fear conditioning is a longstanding, pervasive
experimental paradigm for exploring the neural configuration involved in human processing
of fear as well as non-humans (animals). (Koenigs, Grafman. 2009) The
philosophy behind fear conditioning is that a neutral event such as tone (the
conditioned stimulus, or CS) paired with a contrasting event, such as shock
(the unconditioned stimulus, or US), will produce autonomic or neuroendocrine
changes (the unconditioned response, or UR). Following the research of
numerable pairings of tone and shock, the singular presence of tone (the
conditioned stimulus, or CS) leads to a fear response (the conditioned
response, or CR). Extinction occurs when a CS is presented alone, without the
US, for a number of trials and eventually the CR diminishes or eliminates.

Following the delay of the conditioned response, or CR, extinction usually
occurs with re-exposure to the conditioned CS. Given the similarities
between conditioned fear and symptoms of PTSD (in regards to circumstances that
correlate with a prior threat), researchers have found PTSD to be a defect in
the extinction of conditioned fear. The fear conditioning data gathered from
humans is verified by the National Institutes of Health. 

            By
definition, stress is any uncomfortable “emotional experience accompanied
by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes” (Baum, 1990) It is
the psychological and physiological
response to a stimulus (stressor) that alters the body’s equilibrium.

(Lecture) Stress categorized into two types: acute and chronic stress.

Acute stress is a condition that develops usually within a month’s time in
response to a distress event. These events form
intense fear, dread, or helplessness. Threat of death to oneself or others, threat of
serious injury to oneself or others, and threat to the physical integrity of
oneself or others are causes of the acute stress disorder (Kivi, 2017). Chronic
stress comes
about when an individual experiences traumatic events. However, acute and chronic
stress can develop as a result of an individual responding to stressors that
have been ignored or poorly managed causing build up.

            Post-traumatic
stress disorder can develop at any point during the lifespan of human
development, from infancy, adolescence, to adulthood. It does not matter the cultural,
social, or economic background for PTSD can disturb anyone. Any individual that
encounters a particular event of trauma can experience great stress and anxiety
that can develop into a post-traumatic stress disorder. Service men and women,
victims of abuse, captivity, rape, assault, accidents and even natural
disasters are examples of the wide variety of people that are affected by
post-traumatic stress disorder. Risk factors are contributory components that
cause an individual to have a greater probability of developing PTSD. Resilience
factors aid in the progress of an individual’s journey toward overcoming their trauma.

Well-known causes for PTSD are matters related
to war, dreadful accident, threats to life, witnessing death, natural disaster,
etc. With causes, there are also ways to cope with PTSD, both good and bad. Some
people tend to avoid things that remind them of the traumatic event. It is
sometimes helpful if an individual decides to talk with a counselor and face
their fears head on by dealing with their situation and/or letting go. It may
also be helpful to release those stresses or emotions in the gym or on the dance
floor. I am not saying that this is one hundred percent effective but it may be
a mechanism that works, even if it only works temporarily. Crying can be a good
coping mechanism. At times, crying is problematic if done too often, however, a
good cry can release tension and relieve that individual of the emotions they
felt all at once. Releasing the feelings that are harbored deep down is always
better than holding them in. The obvious signs of harmful coping are signs such
as alcoholism, drug abuse, addictions, etc. Positive coping mechanisms are a
necessity, they help individuals get through the day, functioning life as
normal as possible. Although coping is good, the fact of the matter is that no
one has the desire to cope forever. People would much rather seek the proper
help in order to fix what is broken within.

            In the DSM, PTSD is
classified as an anxiety disorder as of currently. Under the categorization of anxiety
disorders, PTSD must include fear or anxiety as an essential component to develop
this condition. Although studies have shown some inconsistencies in data when
examining parts of the brain, the mere fact that structural changes are present
gives way for the belief and proof that one can develop this illness. It is
specified in the DSM Criterion A2
that an individual must naturally react to a traumatic event with “intense
fear, helplessness, or horror.” Many other factors can be interpreted as
physiological, behavioral, or psychological criteria. With these things in
consideration, PTSD is exceptionally heterogeneous in its presentation. (Alder,
Wright, Bliese, Eckford, & Hoge. 2008).

            According to the American
Psychological Association, the uses of the following
psychotherapies/interventions for adult patients with PTSD are recommended:
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive
therapy (CT), and prolonged exposure therapy (PE) and more. Cognitive
behavioral therapy is a very common method of treatment used for various
illnesses. CBT tackles negativity. It is a type of therapy designed to address one’s
overall perspective of self, others, and life. Cognitive therapy assesses thought
and perception while behavior therapy assesses the triggers of an individual
and situations that affect them.

Symptoms
of post-traumatic stress disorder can vary from physiological to psychological
symptoms. Three specific types of
symptoms characterize PTSD: 1.) Recurring incidents (flashbacks or nightmares
of the traumatic event); 2.) Avoidance and denial (detachment, loss of
interest, emotionally disoriented); 3.) Hyper-arousal (excessive focus,
exaggerated responses, fright). (American
Psychiatric Association 2000) Physiological
features that a diagnosed individual could experience are increased heart rate,
nervousness, sweating, fatigue, headaches, anxiousness, etc. Psychological
symptoms that are often seen are irritability, feeling uncomfortable,
disinterested, overwhelmed, fear, anger, isolation, etc. PTSD generally has a
negative impact on one’s interaction with society, including loved ones within
the home. Because of the hypo active response symptoms that PTSD victims cannot
help but portray, this condition can take a toll in the household. In some
cases, other people live in fear or frustration because of the lack of understanding
or support that is available when dealing with a loved one diagnosed with PTSD.

For example, a war veteran wakes up in the middle of the night to a loud,
terrifying thunder storm and grabs his gun, hunting throughout the home for any
trespassers and their young child gets out of bed, and unintentionally startles
the parent, the parent shoots at the child as a quick reflex, without seeing
the child first, thinking that he was somehow in danger as he was in the field
when he was a soldier. This is an example of a person who needs help settling
his fear and terror. There are many other emotions and characteristics
displayed within the assorted pool of PTSD victims, however, fear is the most
commonly known.

Treatments for Post-traumatic stress disorder may
involve medicine, communication, breaking of barriers, therapy, etc. as it
pertains to the traumatic memory. These types of therapy consist of the patient
committing to various sessions and diverse teachings of how to cope. Understanding the
foundation of PTSD may give clarification as to how there are differences in susceptibility
to the disorder depending upon an individual as well as aid in the development
of more effective treatments. It has
been discovered that one of the most effective ways to help someone with PTSD
is to understand where condition originates. Post-Traumatic stress disorder is
one of the most well known conditions associated with stress. Because the
condition of one patient is not necessarily the same as another, treatments
vary person to person. Even though PTSD is placed under a specific category,
characteristics of PTSD fit other DSM
categories as well. Every diagnosed individual assumes his or her own form of
the condition.

            Although, PTSD is a fairly new
diagnosis in the field of Psychology, it is looked down upon quite a bit. Some
believe that PTSD is not a real illness or that it is not as severe as it is
made out to be. Researchers are still working progressively to meet this
condition where it is and tackle it effectively. The classic fight-or-flight
response to perceived threats is a reflexive nervous system phenomenon. Looking
into the structure of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), this is where the fight-or-flight
response is activated. Once the epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones are
released, this leads to the direct connection of natural bodily reactions of
excitement or emergency. The systems that organize the group of
reflexive survival behaviors following exposure to perceived threat can under
some circumstances become deregulated in the process. Chronic deregulation of
these systems can lead to functional impairment in certain individuals who
become “psychologically traumatized” and suffer from post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD). (Sherin, Nemeroff. 2011)

            In conclusion, the purpose of
this assignment is to inform the audience about post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and how it can affect an array of different people. This is a very
common disorder that is not always detectable at first. Signs and symptoms that
may be present in one individual could be completely different in another.

Another example is that one methodology of treatment may work phenomenally with
one patient and terribly with another. It is imperative, as a health care professional,
that one understands that signs and symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person.

One must identify particulars of this disorder in its entirety from biological,
psychological, social, and developmental aspects. Victims of PTSD sometimes
relive their moment(s) of horror as a symptom, which potentially causes more
damage as they go through life if they are not helped. There is no specified
type of people PTSD has been identified in. It is a disorder that affects men,
women, children and animals too. It is important that we, as people, are aware
of our forever-changing world.

            In this paper, I have discussed
material attained in my Abnormal Psychology course as well as society’s current
understanding about post-traumatic stress disorder. I have explored and
discovered an extensive amount of information through research in order to describe
current developments of stress and discuss how it is applicable to this
specific illness. The material included in this work consists of biological
points, symptoms, treatments, examples, perspectives of medicine verses
therapy, etc. The reader will have learned and grasped
the implication of PTSD and its complexity at the completion of his or her
reading.