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Jane Jackson, MD
The Emotional Impact of PTSD
New Vitality Health Center

The Emotional Impact of PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects everyone in different ways regardless of whether it is due to violent crime or a wartime incident. There is still a substantial amount to be learned about PTSD even though it has been researched and studied extensively already.
An interesting point is that women handle traumatic events much differently than men and adults cope differently than children. Researchers know that these traumatic events can cause sleep disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, and may lead to divorce. The prevalence of PTSD is high and has huge consequences that negatively impact society as a whole.
The prevalence is twice as high in women even though the exposure to traumatic events is actually higher in men. Exposure to traumatic events is not uncommon in the general population; however, it does not necessarily follow that the person will develop PTSD.
The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” defines a traumatic event as it relates to “PTSD” as an event “generally outside the range of usual human experience that would significantly cause symptoms of distress in almost everyone.” It goes on to say that “the disorder is triggered by witnessing or experiencing an event that could result in possible death or serious injury to oneself or others.”
The two most common symptoms observed after a traumatic event are PTSD and depression. Studies reveal that 7.8% of the general population may develop these symptoms after a traumatic event. Some of the common traumatic events that people experience are combat, rape, sexual assault or molestation, being threatened with a weapon, mugged, robbed, or physically attacked, or being shot, stabbed, or beaten.
Non-assaultive traumatic events include, but are not limited to, serious motor vehicle accidents, disaster, or fire, and witnessing the death or injury to another person. Another unfortunate cause is the sudden tragic and violent death of a close one.
Those with previous psychopathology or mental illness have a greater chance of suffering from PTSD. However, it appears that people over the age of 50 are more protected against it. For all groups sleep disturbance is a core feature of PTSD. Nightmares and insomnia, in addition to “flash backs” are common.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Paxil (paroxitine) and Zoloft (sertraline) as well as cognitive behavioral therapy have been used to treat PTSD. Benzodiazipines and sedative-hypnotics such as Xanax and Ambien have been used for anxiety and insomnia, but with great caution due to the risk of dependency and abuse potential.
Atypical antipsychotics such as Abilify or Zyprexa can be used in some cases when an individual becomes “hypervigilent”, or frankly paranoid. There are also a number of other unique and beneficial treatments that have been used to treat PTSD. Be sure to contact your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms that do not remit on their own.
In conclusion, PTSD can be chronic and disabling and often leads to other disabilities both physiological and psychological. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the medical community to continue to do further research on the disorder and on the family and friends to help support those who are suffering from it.

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