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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms and treatment of PTSD

Victims of stressful situations, outside of the range of normal human experiences, have a heightened chance of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The tragic events of military combat, imprisonment, terrorist activities like kidnappings and bombings, and sexual abuse have strengthen our conceptual understanding of this debilitating disorder. Luckily, research and the personal success stories have developed treatments effectively aiding victims and their families.

According the leading research, and the American Psychological Association's diagnostic and statistical manual, when a victim displays three or more dissociative symptoms for more than four weeks after the traumatic event, e.g., emotional numbing or detachment from reality, loss of personal awareness in surroundings, or are unable to remember specific details about the event, they are experiencing the long-lasting effects of stress.

The early response of a victim generally follows three stages: (1) the initial shock stage, (2) the suggestible stage, when defenses are weak and the psyche is susceptible to both positive and negative coping mechanisms, and (3) the recovery stage. The ongoing consequences manifest during the final stage of traumatic stress, when he or she are still tense and anxious but are beginning to regain a psychological equilibrium. At this point, one normally feels the overwhelming urge to relive or reenact the event. Often both adults and children express this through telling the story, or nightmares-even if the nightmares have little in common with the actual trauma yet still elicit the same uncontrollable fear response.

When the victims are children, or adolescents, the second and third stage are extremely crucial. During this phase developing the tools of positive self-expression and resolution of guilt, can be the golden ticket for a healthy life. Children with PTSD feel the same anxieties as adults, but illustrate the outward symptoms differently. Overwhelming stress could play off as agitation, sudden new fears, poor school performance, developmental regression or age-inappropriate behavior. Children may not develop these symptoms for months or years afterwards, and findings show the effects can last through out a lifetime in severe situations. However, a child's developmental stage, resilience threshold, and family support structure play a significant role in minimizing the aftershock of the traumatic event.

Treatment of PTSD usually involves a combination of antidepressant medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy, tailored to suit each person's unique needs. Quick acting crisis intervention therapists can help adults and children constructively deal with their emotional reaction and procure a better chance of adjustment to normal life. Strengthening the emotional support structure through family, couples and individual therapy, assists in healing and lessening of the fear based response cycle.

Structure, in its general sense, can build up coping skills for both child and adult especially when aided by daily routines embracing a healthy diet, meditative or rigorous exercise tailored to your needs, and a supportive social network. Many healthy adults use exercise, art, or other hobbies to deal with daily average stress levels. Those who experience heightened sensitivity to stress due to PTSD would benefit greatly from the release of the feel-good' endorphins, by gaining a sense of control and social interaction.

If you know someone, or are that someone, with posttraumatic stress disorder make an appointment with your doctor, seek out a trusted family member or friend. Search for a local stress management clinic. With the proven medication and therapeutic techniques available, living a comfortable, safe, happy life is a reality.

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