Научная электронная библиотека
Монографии, изданные в издательстве Российской Академии Естествознания

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be an extremely debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

Military troops who served in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters like the Oklahoma City bombing; survivors of accidents, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1994 California earthquake, the 1997 South Dakota floods, and hurricanes Hugo and Andrew; and people who witness traumatic events are among those at risk for developing PTSD. Families of victims can also develop the disorder.

Fortunately, through research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), effective treatments have been developed to help people with PTSD. Research is also helping scientists better understand the condition and how it affects the brain and the rest of the body. NIMH is conducting a national education program on anxiety disorders, which include PTSD, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than 1 month.

How Common Is PTSD?

About 3,6 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 54 (5,2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. One million war veterans developed PTSD after serving in Vietnam. PTSD has also been detected among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, with some estimates running as high as 8 percent.

When Does PTSD First Occur?

PTSD can develop at any age, including in childhood. Symptoms typically begin within 3 months of a traumatic event, although occasionally they do not begin until years later. Once PTSD occurs, the severity and duration of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others suffer much longer.

What Treatments Are Available for PTSD?

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy, in which the patient repeatedly relives the frightening experience under controlled conditions to help him or her work through the trauma. Studies have also shown that medications help ease associated symptoms of depression and anxiety and help promote sleep. Scientists are attempting to determine which treatments work best for which type of trauma.

Some studies show that debriefing people very soon after a catastrophic event may reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD. A study of 12,000 schoolchildren who lived through a hurricane in Hawaii found that those who got counseling early on were doing much better 2 years later than those who did not.

Do Other Illnesses Tend to Accompany PTSD?

Co-occurring depression, alcohol or other substance abuse, or another anxiety disorder are not uncommon. The likelihood of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately identified and treated as well.

Headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, or discomfort in other parts of the body are common. Often, doctors treat the symptoms without being aware that they stem from PTSD. NIMH, through its education program, is encouraging primary care providers to ask patients about experiences with violence, recent losses, and traumatic events, especially if symptoms keep recurring. When PTSD is diagnosed, referral to a mental health professional who has had experience treating people with the disorder is recommended.

Who Is Most Likely to Develop PTSD?

People who have been abused as children or who have had other previous traumatic experiences are more likely to develop the disorder. Research is continuing to pinpoint other factors that may lead to PTSD.

It used to be believed that people who tend to be emotionally numb after a trauma were showing a healthy response, but now some researchers suspect that people who experience this emotional distancing may be more prone to PTSD.

What Are Scientists Learning From Research?

NIMH and the VA sponsor a wide range of basic, clinical, and genetic studies of PTSD. In addition, NIMH has a special funding mechanism, called RAPID Grants, that allows researchers to immediately visit the scenes of disasters, such as plane crashes or floods and hurricanes, to study the acute effects of the event and the effectiveness of early intervention.

Studies in animals and humans have focused on pinpointing the specific brain areas and circuits involved in anxiety and fear, which underlie anxiety disorders such as PTSD. Fear, an emotion that evolved to deal with danger, causes an automatic, rapid protective response that occurs without the need for conscious thought. It has been found that the body’s fear response is coordinated by a small structure deep inside the brain, called the amygdala.

The amygdala, although relatively small, is a very complicated structure, and recent research suggests that different anxiety disorders may be associated with abnormal activation of the amygdala. One aim of research is to use such basic knowledge to develop new therapies.

The following are also recent research findings:

- Animal studies show that the hippocampus – a part of the brain critical to emotion-laden memories – appears to be smaller in cases of PTSD. Brain imaging studies indicate similar findings in humans. Scientists are investigating whether this is related to short-term memory problems. Changes in the hippocampus are thought to be responsible for intrusive memories and flashbacks that occur in people with this disorder.

- People with PTSD tend to have abnormal levels of key hormones involved in response to stress. Some studies have shown that cortisol levels are lower than normal and epinephrine and norepinephrine are higher than normal.

- When people are in danger, they produce high levels of natural opiates, which can temporarily mask pain. Scientists have found that people with PTSD continue to produce those higher levels even after the danger has passed; this may lead to the blunted emotions associated with the condition.

- Research to understand the neurotransmitter system involved in memories of emotionally charged events may lead to discovery of drugs that, if given early, could block the development of PTSD symptoms.

Match the symptoms and their definition

Fear

is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide

Breathlessness

is the subjective sensation of difficult or uncomfortable breathing.

Dizziness

 is an impairment in spatial perception and stability

sweating

is the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands in the skin of mammals 

tremor

 is a type of shaking movement. It is most often noticed in your hands and arms, but it may affect any body part 

Obsessive thoughts 

are unwelcome involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions, are upsetting or distressing, and can be difficult to manage or eliminate

Palpitation

 is an abnormality of heartbeat that ranges from often unnoticed skipped beats or accelerated heart rate to very noticeable changes accompanied by dizziness or difficulty breathing

Say if these statements are true or false

true

false

1. In exposure treatments the patient is taught a new response to the feat object.

2. Phonophobia is a fear of loud sounds.

3. Phobias affect over 10 % of the US population.

4. It is easy to diagnose phobias and to distinguish them from physical illnesses

5. The effectiveness of a treatment depends on the individual and the type of phobia.

6. There are 3 types of phobias: specific phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia.

7. Symptoms of physical illness and phobias are not closely linked.

Fill in the gaps with an appropriate word or word combination

Trigger; exposure therapy; likelihood; war zones; severity; amygdala

1. About 30 % of men and women who have spent time in __________experience PTSD

2. Once PTSD occurs, the ___________ and duration of the illness varies.

3. Anniversaries of the event can also _________ symptoms

4. In ____________ the patients repeatedly relive the frightening experience under controlled conditions to help them work through the trauma.

5. The ________ of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately identified and treated well.

6. It has been found that the body’s fear response is coordinated by a small structure deep inside the brain, called the__________.

Fill in the gaps with appropriate figures

1. _________ schoolchildren lived through a hurricane in Hawaii

2. __________ people have PTSD during the course of a given year in the US.

3. __________ percent of people who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD.

4. Symptoms begin within ________ months of a traumatic event.

5. __________ veterans developed PTSD after serving in Vietnam.


Предлагаем вашему вниманию журналы, издающиеся в издательстве «Академия Естествознания»
(Высокий импакт-фактор РИНЦ, тематика журналов охватывает все научные направления)

«Фундаментальные исследования» список ВАК ИФ РИНЦ = 1.074