Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When a person feels threatened or endangered, nature dictates that he or she feels afraid. This triggers hormone-induced changes in the body that prepare a fight or flight mechanism as a response to the situation. This is known as acute stress disorder (ASD). When these symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks and develop into an ongoing problem, they are termed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Causes

Genes. Scientists specialized on post-traumatic stress disorder have identified genes that produce: Stathmin, a protein used in formation of fear memories; Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), a chemical which is released by the brain during emotionally charged events; and a gene which controls serotonin levels, which is a chemical related to mood and also fuels the fear response. This proves that an individual’s genetic build plays a vital role in reaction to traumatic experience, making some people more susceptible to the disorder than others. Researchers also argue that certain areas of the brain structure such as the amygdala seem to be active in learning whether to fear events.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Re-experiencing a traumatic event: These cause problems in an individual’s everyday life as they can start from a person’s own feelings and thoughts. Situations, objects or words that are memories of the stressful event can also trigger this.
  2. Avoidance and numbing symptoms: anything that prompts a person to remember a previously experienced traumatic occurrence can initiate avoidance. This causes an individual to alter her or his individual routine.
  3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal symptoms; these symptoms are usually constant, as they are not triggered by specific events or reminders of an incident. A person may feel tense, angry, and stressed.

Treatment

The chief remedy for this disorder is medications, psychotherapy, or both. Anyone suffering from this disorder should ensure a professional who is well versed on matters with post-traumatic stress disorder treats them. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) has sanctioned two medicines for treating adults who suffer from the disorder, namely, paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft). Both of these are antidepressants that are also used in the treatment of depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that affects many people, many of who suffer in silence. Though there are a number of medications applicable to cure it, the possible side effects outweigh any gains that a patient might make. Counseling and psychotherapy remain the safest way to cure a person of this disorder.

 

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