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Discussing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Persistent stress often leads to impaired performance and stress-related health problems, sometimes lingering even after the stressor has been terminated. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most dramatic examples of the aftereffects of stress.
You have been asked to prepare a brief presentation on PTSD that focuses on different theoretical views of the disorder and the controversy surrounding its increased prevalence. Answer the following questions to organize your presentation.
1. How would a researcher working from the bio/psycho/social perspective explain PTSD? What are some of the specific biological, psychological, and social factors in the disorder?
2. How would a researcher working within the diathesis-stress model explain PTSD? What are some of the specific predisposing and precipitating factors in PTSD?
3. How would a researcher working within the field of psycho/neuro/immunology explain PTSD? What are some possible mind-body pathways to the disorder?
4. What evidence supports those who claim that PTSD is a genuine condition that is triggered by a traumatic event?
5. What evidence supports skeptics who claim that PTSD is at least partly a cultural or social phenomenon?

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Solution Preview

1. Look at the signs and symptoms,as well as the course and outcome of the developed or developing PTSD condition in a person who participated in or became a target of violent, traumatic life destroying actions.

2.
- Predisposing
- Trauma
- Violence
- Anger
- Guilt & regret-fullness
- Recurrence of traumatic scenes and visions during sleep
- Night mares
- Insomnia
- Lack of social interaction
- Disinterest in anything fun that the person used to like before
- Aggression
- Drinking and substance abuse
- Suicidal thinking

3. Health is affected both physically and psychologically when a person suffers from all mental illnesses, especially stress and PTSD. Integrative health studies show that with PTSD, over time, the quality of the patient's physical health diminishes, along with the ability to remain resilient and get back to a normal life from before the traumatic experiences and actions. Psycho/neuro/immunological studies frequently point out to the effect on immune system and even the physical structure of the brain that gets changed due to stress caused by PTSD.

4. Traumatic life experiences do happen and they do indeed cause PTSD. Perhaps, this is ...

Solution Summary

Short answer on post traumatic stress disorder - factors, issues, treatment & risks.

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What should be included in a paper on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? How much information from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) should be included?

Assignment on the analysis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in relation to its affects on children (this information can easily by modified to apply to adults as well).

[NOTE: A student submitted the following information regarding PTSD and asked what else should be discussed about the disorder as it relates to children in order to complete a research paper on it.]

According to the DSM-IV-TR (Note: If using the DSM-V, simply use the updated diagnostic criteria from that edition, which will be similar to what is provided below from the 4th edition), when a person has been exposed to a traumatic event the following are signs that PTSD has developed:

1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
2. The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. (Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
If the traumatic event is re-experienced in one or more of the following along with how it affects children.
1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections, images, thoughts or perceptions of the event (In younger children there may be repetitive play in which aspects of the event are expressed).
2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event (For children, experiencing frightening dreams without recognizable content).
3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (For children, trauma specific reenactment may occur).
4. Intense psychological distress at the exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
5. Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

There could be persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma) as indicated by three or more of the following: efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma, efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma, inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma, sense of a foreshortened future.

Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma) difficulty falling or staying asleep, hyper-vigilance, difficulty concentrating, irritability or outbursts of anger, exaggerated startle response. Duration of disturbance is more than one month with all the symptoms. This disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

Acute-duration is less than three months and Chronic-duration is three months or more of the stated symptoms and with delayed onset at least six months after the stressor and the onset of symptoms (DSM-IV-TR, p.468; American Psychiatric Association).

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