Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma and stressor-related disorder which develops post exposure to a terrifying event in which physical harm occurred or was threatened to have occurred.Violent assaults, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, motor vehicle accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and military combat, are some of the situations that may cause PTSD.

Those who have PTSD may find it difficult to perform at work and in their relationships. Children that may have PTSD as a result of experiencing a traumatic event will have difficulty performing school related activities; they may also isolate themselves from the outside world, and develop phobias. Those who have PTSD re-experience the ordeal in the form of a flashback, nightmares, or frightening thoughts when the memory is triggered by an environmental stimulus that reminds them of the traumatic experience. If the symptoms continue for one month or longer, the individual may have PTSD.

Roxane Silver Ph.D. Conducted a research study on the emotional effects of the 911 terrorist attack in New York and Washington. The results from her study noted that the severity of exposure to the event, as opposed to the degree of loss suffered, was correlated to the level of distress the individual felt. Persons who reported seeing the planes fly into the trade center buildings experienced more PTSD symptoms than average, the people who suffered monetary losses due to the attacks did not display PTSD symptoms. Recent empirical studies have shown that watching traumatic events on TV could rekindle the feelings associated with a real-life occurrence of a traumatic experience. Particularly for those individuals who had a pre-existing mental or physical health issue or had significant exposure to the attacks.

Research has demonstrated that psychological interventions can help prevent chronic psychological consequences. In general, brief cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) which aim to target individuals that have suffered a traumatic encounter.The goal is to assist the people in understanding and controlling their anxiety level. CBT has proven very effective in producing significant reductions in PTSD symptoms. Improvements in fear and anxiety levels were noted in sixty to eighty percent of individuals among several civilian populations, mostly consisting of rape survivors. Combat veterans who have experienced PTSD after repeated exposure to traumatic events displayed moderate benefits from receiving CBT treatment, as this traumatic experience is much harder to treat.

  1. B. Foa Ph.D. And colleagues have developed brief cognitive-behavioral treatments that have demonstrated through empirical studies to have had a positive effect on the participants who have PTSD. Listed are a few of the recommended treatment procedures performed in brief CBT.
  • Education,
  • Relaxation therapy
  • In vivo exposure – repeated confrontations with the actual traumatic stressor and with situations that evoke trauma-related fears.
  • Cognitive restructuring – techniques for replacing catastrophic, self-defeating thought patterns with more adaptive, self-reassuring statements.

When the brief CBT is performed no more than a few weeks past the event occurring, the survivors of physical attacks were noted to have significantly fewer anxiety symptoms and this prevented future PTSD symptoms from occurring. R. A. Bryant’s research indicated that brief cognitive-behavioral treatment is effective in preventing PTSD in survivors of a motor vehicle and industrial type accidents. Trauma survivors may benefit from counseling as well as CBT according to Bryant. Short term CBT is recommended for survivors of a trauma and survivors of a current trauma that have suffered a history of childhood physical or sexual abuse. The short term CBT approach may also benefit those who have preexisting mental health issues.


During the 1990’s in the United States, approximately 5.2 million adults from eighteen years old to fifty-four years of age have PTSD.   Untreated PTSD resulting from trauma is unlikely to disappear without intervention and may lead to mental health disorders such as depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and sleep disorders which interfere in a person’s life functioning to a significant degree.

According to psychologist R.C. Kessler’s findings from The National Comorbidity Survey Report (NCS) that examined over 8,000 individuals between the ages of 15 to 54, almost 8 % of adult Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women 10.4% twice as likely to be victims as men 5%.


The Effects of Trauma Do Not Have to Last a Lifetime. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Speak Your Mind