Tag: Ptsd

cps
Child Development and The Effects of Trauma

Brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child’s development. Children learn in many different ways.Each child has his own way of learning—some learn visually, others through touch, taste, and sound.Watch a group of children and you’ll understand at once what this means. One child will sit and listen patiently, another cannot wait to move and count beads. Another wants you to show her the answer over and over.Children also learn in different ways depending on their developmental stage. One thing we know is all children love to learn new things by exploring and discovering. Children love to solve problems during play and in daily activities.

In the first eighteen months after birth, an infant makes miraculous progress. In this relatively short time span, an infant sees her world through her senses. Babies gather information through touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.To help infants mature and learn, the caregiver should stimulate but not overwhelm them. The overall goal is not to “teach” your baby but to interact and explore her world with her.Older infants are on the move. They take great pleasure in discovering what they can do with their voice, hands, feet, and toes. Soon they practice rolling skills, crawling, walking, and other great physical adventures.Here is what you might expect during the first eighteen months and beyond.

One Month

At one month of age the child can’t support its own head and is awake about one hour in every ten. The child is wholly dependent on its caregiver.

Three Months

By three months of age the child’s hands and feet are fascinating. The child will laugh and coo at them. The child will remain alert for 15 minutes, maybe longer, at a time.

Five Months

At five months the child may be able to roll over and sit with support. He or she can hold toys. At this age the child will babble and is alert for two hours at a time. By this time, the child will eat most baby food. If toys are just out of reach the child will try to reach them.

9 months

The child at nine months will become very busy! He or she will explore everything! By this time, the child should be able to crawl, sit, pull on furniture, grasp objects, and understand simple commands.They begin to be able to enjoy time with other babies and react to their happiness and sadness.

One year old

At the end of their first year, the child may be able to pull myself up and sidestep around furniture. They may begin walking. They make lots of sounds and say “Mama” and “Dada.”

At one year of age they are curious about flowers, ants, grass, stones, bugs, and dirt. They like to get messy, ’cause that’s how they learn. They have fingers want to touch everything. They like to play near others close to my age but not always with them. If walking, please walk at their pace.

12-18 Months

Between the age of twelve to eighteen months, the child will like to eat with a spoon, even if it spills. He or she will explore everything high and low. The child may have temper tantrums because they will have no other way of expressing my feelings or frustrations.They may be fearful and clingy. It is during this time that evening routines become important: music, story, and bath time.The child will like balls, blocks, pull toys, push toys, take apart toys, put together toys, and cuddles. They will say “No” and mean it.

18 months

By eighteen months a child can walk well but still falls allot. They may jump. They say a lot of words, especially the word “mine”—because everything is “mine” to the child.

During the next stage of life, your child is beginning to define himself. The child needs activities that spur his imagination and vocabulary. During the toddler years, children get into everything.

The terrible terrific two’s

At age 2 the child is loving, and quite affectionate, and responsive to others. They will feel sorry or sad when others my age are upset. They may try hard to please you. They don’t need you so close for protection, but please don’t go too far away. The 2 year old may do the exact opposite of what you want and may be rigid, not willing to wait or give in.A 2 year old may even be bossy. “Me” is one of my favorite words. There are fears a two year old has, especially of sounds, separation, moving household objects, or that big dog.

3-5 Years

Three through five years are the preschool years, when the child will be incredibly busy. Cutting, pasting, painting, and singing are all daily activities.The child starts kindergarten around age five, and will begin learning numbers, letters, and simple directions.

A three year old is charged with physical energy. The three year old child will do things on my own terms. With a mind like a sponge, reading and socializing are essential and gets them ready for school.The three year old likes to play pretend a lot and enjoys scribbling on everything. I am full of questions, many of which are “Why?”The child has become fairly reliable about using the potty by this age. Playing and trying new things out are how children of this age learn . He or she will begin to listen more and begins to understand how to solve problems.

4 years old

Four years old is an active stage, running, hopping, jumping, and climbing. The four year old loves to question everything “Why?” and “How?” . He or she is interested in numbers and the world in general.They enjoy playing with my friends and like to be creative with drawings, and recognizes their own pictures to be different from everyone else’s. The four year old is proud that he or she is so BIG now!

Age 5

That brings us to age 5. Finally the child seems to be slowing a little in growth. With good motor control, but still small muscles aren’t as developed a the larger muscles are for activities such as jumping. This age comes with activity levels which are very high and play time has direction. The child will like writing his or her name, drawing pictures, making projects, and going to the library. Much more interested now in doing group activities, and sharing things and expressing feelings.They may prefer quiet time away from the other kids from time to time and be anxious to begin kindergarten.

6 to 8

Six through eight years of age have busy days filled with recess, homework, and tear-jerking fights with their friends. They begin to think and plan ahead. They have a thousand questions. This age group has good and bad days just like adults. Get ready, because it’s only the beginning!A six year old is affectionate and excited over school, willing to go eagerly most of the time. The 6 year old is self-centered and can be quite demanding. He or she thinks he is a big kid now and can be impatient, wanting demands to be met NOW. At this age the child begins to want to be around older children more than with younger ones. They will often have one close friend, and sometimes will exclude a third child.

7 Years Old

When the child reaches age 7, he is more quiet and sensitive to others than at six. Sometimes at this age, he or she tends to be mean to others of the same age and younger. which might include acting out to hurt their feelings to a 7 year old tends to be more polite and agreeable to adult suggestions and I conscious of his or her schoolwork and is beginning to compare his work with others wanting his schoolwork to look “right.”

When he or she makes mistakes, the 7 year old can easily become frustrated.

8 Years

An 8 year olds curiosity and eagerness to explore new things continues to grow. Friends are more important and at this age, the child enjoys playing and being with peers. Recess may be a favorite “subject” in school. The 8 year old may follow you around the house just to find out how you feel and think, especially about him.

The 8 year old child is developing an awareness of adults as individuals and am curious about what they do at work. Around the house or at child care, 8 year olds can be quite helpful.

9 to 11

Children from nine to eleven are like the socks they buy, with a great range of stretch. Some are still “little kids” and others are quite mature. Some are already entering puberty, with body, emotions, and attitude changes during this stage.

Parents need to take these changes into account when they are choosing child care for this age group. These children begin to think logically and like to work on real tasks, such as mowing lawns or baking. They have a lot of natural curiosity about living things and enjoy having pets.

They have lots of energy, and physical activities are important such as sports and group activities. The child will begin to find his taste in clothes, music, and friends. He will want individuality if his choosing, or, a hair cut a certain way. Priorities like school are not as important now as a social life

At this age, girls are often taller and heavier than the boys. Some girls may be beginning to show signs of puberty, and we may be self-conscious about that. They can feel powerful and independent, as they know what to do and how to do it. They want to think independently and want to be independent and will be eager to become an adult.

The pre-teen adolescent years

As children enter adolescence, they to want their independence. Yet they still want to be children and need your guidance.

As your child grows, it’s easier to leave him at home for longer periods of time and also ask him to care for younger children. Trust your instincts and watch your child to make sure you are not placing too much responsibility on him at one time. Talk to him. Keep the door open.

Eleven – Fourteen

Your child is changing so fast—in body, mind, and emotions—that you hardly know him or her anymore. One day they are as responsible and cooperative as an adult; the next day they act more like a six-year-old.

Planning beyond today’s baseball game or slumber party is hard. One minute it’s sunny and the child is enthusiastic. The next minute it’s gloomy and your child is silent. Keep cool. These children are in the midst of a delicate process; they are becoming more self-sufficient.It’s Independence Day for them, as they are more independent than they used to be, but still quite self-conscious. They may think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer to any thing.

They like to talk about issues in the adult world and think for themselves, and though they may often feel confused, their opinions are very important to them, and they want others to respect them. They seem to be moving away from my family as friends are more important than ever. To make sure they got on and are liked by their friends, so they sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of.

They still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, they need the adults to be more understanding and cooperative. They want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, they believe they are mature enough and can often be left alone or even to watch others.

Trauma and the Brain

“The human brain is designed to sense, process, store, perceive, and act on information from the external and the internal environment. All of these complex systems and activities work together for one overarching purpose—survival” (Goldstein, 1995 cited in Perry, et al., 1995).

Neurons are the building blocks of the brain. During development, neurons create networks that link to create systems. These systems are how the brain regulates all functions. Brain functions are organized from the most simple to the most complex. The development of these functions is sequential, meaning prior events impact future development.

A key fact that child welfare professionals, judges, and others who work with child welfare-involved families should know is that there are critical developmental times when neural pathways are being formed that can be significantly altered by traumatic events (Perry, 1995, 2009).

Exposure to chronic, prolonged traumatic experiences has the potential to alter children’s brains, which may cause longer-term effects in areas such as:

  • Attachment: Trouble with relationships, boundaries, empathy, and social isolation
  • Physical Health: Impaired sensorimotor development, coordination problems, increased medical problems, and somatic symptoms
  • Emotional Regulation: Difficulty identifying or labeling feelings and communicating needs
  • Dissociation: Altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory
  • Cognitive Ability: Problems with focus, learning, processing new information, language development, planning and orientation to time and space
  • Self-Concept: Lack of consistent sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem,shame and guilt
  • Behavioral Control: Difficulty controlling impulses, oppositional behavior, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, trauma re-enactment

Source: Cook, et al, 2005

The Brain Development in Infancy

Brain development in infancy and early childhood lays the foundation for all future development. Neural pathways form at great speed and depend on the repetition of experiences.

Experiences teach the brain what to expect and how to respond.

When experiences are traumatic, the pathways getting the most use are those in response to the trauma; this reduces the formation of other pathways needed for adaptive behavior.

Trauma in early childhood can result in disrupted attachment, cognitive delays, and impaired emotional regulation.Also, the overdevelopment of certain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to impairment later in life (Perry, 1995).

By age three, the brain is almost 80% of its adult size;

By age five it is 90%.Although this creates a sense of urgency regarding intervention, it is also important to know that the brain has the most plasticity in infancy and early childhood, meaning there is the most opportunity for change.This is both the reason that prolonged trauma in early childhood can be so devastating, but also a window of opportunity for interventions that can alter the brain in positive ways (CWIG, 2011).

Children and Teens

Brain development continues in the school-age years, but more slowly.During this stage neural pathways are pruned or eliminated to increase efficiency. In addition, the brain coats neural pathways to protect and strengthen them (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).This process allows the school-age child to master more complex skills, including impulse control, managing emotions, and sustaining attention.

Trauma during this (school age to adolescence) stage of development can have significant impact on learning, social relationships, and school success (NCTSN, 2008).

The impact of trauma at this age also depends on the onset. If trauma continues into the school-age years from early childhood, the impact is greater on overall functioning.There is some evidence that trauma that begins during the school-age years will have a different impact than trauma that begins in early childhood.

Specifically, school-age onset seems to result in more externalizing behaviors (acting out) whereas early childhood onset results in more internalizing behaviors (withdrawal, depression, self-blame) (Manly, 2001; Kaplow, 2007).

In adolescence the brain goes through another period of accelerated development.

The pruning of unused pathways increases, similar to early childhood. This process makes the brain more efficient, especially the part of the brain that supports attention, concentration, reasoning, and advanced thinking.Trauma during adolescence disrupts both the development of this part of the brain and the strengthening of the systems that allow this part of the brain to effectively communicate with other systems. This can lead to increased risk taking, impulsivity, substance abuse, and criminal activity (NCTSN, 2008; Chamberlin, 2009; Wilson, 2011; CWIG, 2009).

Sense of Security

Survivors of childhood trauma need to feel safe and find a sense of security. Children need to feel physically and psychologically safe.

To feel psychologically safe, children need consistency and predictability.

It is important that caregivers provide predictable and consistent rules, environments including routines, clear expectations, consistent feedback, and positive reinforcement.

Caregivers should learn to truly listen to the child. Pay attention to possible triggers, which may be people, places, or things that make the child feel threatened.Increase the caregiver’s awareness of behaviors that are reactions to triggers. It may not always be clear to an outsider what the threat is, but the threat is real to the child who has experienced trauma.

Most importantly, reassure the child that everyone in her life is working to keep her safe. That reassurance, backed with the consistent actions by the caregivers, will, in time, create the trust and sense of security, essential in to the healing process.

Special thanks to the following sources of wonderful information-

How trauma effects brain development

Ages and stages of child development

(more…)

cps, health, love, mental illness, psychiatry
Until Tuesday-A Must-Read Book About PTSD & a Golden Retriever

So having been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and being a dog lover,i was researching the use of service animals for those with ptsd.

I came across this book that I simply had to mention and I certainly cannot wait to read.

I thought it was ironic that its called “Until Tuesday” but is not affiliated with “Its Almost Tuesday”.

I would love to hear from my readers on their experiences with ptsd and service animals.

I want to also hear from others who have read this book. It looks amazing.

“We aren’t just service dog and master; Tuesday and I are also best friends. Kindred souls. Brothers. Whatever you want to call it. We weren’t made for each other, but we turned out to be exactly what the other needed.”

A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalván never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, the pressures of his physical wounds, traumatic brain injury, and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. Haunted by the war and in constant physical pain, he soon found himself unable to climb a simple flight of stairs or face a bus ride to the VA hospital. He drank; he argued; ultimately, he cut himself off from those he loved. Alienated and alone, unable to sleep or bend over without pain, he began to wonder if he would ever recover.

Then Luis met Tuesday, a beautiful and sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived amongst prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, blessing many lives; he could turn on lights, open doors, and sense the onset of anxiety and flashbacks. But because of a unique training situation and sensitive nature, he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being—until Luis.

Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how together they healed each other’s souls.

Find out more about this book at http://until-Tuesday.com

cps
EMDR Therapy: Self-Help Techniques for Trauma Relief

ist1_5747287-distress

Self help techniques for my brothers and sisters out there also suffering from PTSD

April 18, 2012 by Kellie Holly

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is primarily used as a treatment for PTSD. Discovered and developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., EMDR uses eye movements, taps or tones to reprogram trauma victims’ thinking. The end result can be relatively fast relief of PTSD symptoms, including the re-experiencing of the trauma and other symptoms resulting from horrific events like rape or combat. EMDR also helps with “little t” traumas having to do with beliefs about ourselves formed during childhood and other mental health disorders.

How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR uses a psychoanalytic approach to verbally tie trauma triggers to memories so the brain can move past the pain and heal rapidly. In fact, many one-time traumas can be efficiently handled in three 90-minute sessions with a trained EMDR clinician (childhood traumas will take more time). One of the best parts about EMDR is it does not involve repetitively talking through the trauma.

For example, rape victims will not have to relive the pain they felt and combat victims will not be forced to relive the events causing their trauma.

About Francine Shapiro, Ph.D.
Dr. Francine Shapiro is a recipient of the International Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy of the City of Vienna, the American Psychological Association Trauma Psychology Division Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in Trauma Psychology, and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology Award, from the California Psychological Association. Her new book, for both laypeople and clinicians, is called Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy.

Dr. Shapiro joins us on this edition of the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show to discuss EMDR and these new EMDR self-help techniques for relief of traumas in your life as well as ways to deal with stress, negative thoughts and emotions, and understanding why you may over-react in relationships.

cps
What Treatments Are Available For PTSD?

wpid-700207239721384987.jpg

PTSD is treated by a variety of forms of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and pharmacotherapy (medication).

There is no single best treatment, but some treatments appear to be quite promising, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).  CBT includes a number of diverse but related techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). For most people symptoms improve over the first year.

Treatment also reduces symptoms but for some symptoms can last a lifetime.
Roughly 30% of individuals develop a chronic form of PTSD.

PTSD usually involves periods of symptom increase followed by remission or decrease, although some individuals may experience symptoms that are long lasting and severe.

Some older veterans, who report a lifetime of only mild symptoms, experience significant increases in symptoms following retirement, severe medical illness in themselves or their spouses, or reminders of their military service, such as reunions and anniversaries.

What other problems do people with PTSD experience?

It is very common for other conditions to occur along with PTSD, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

More than half of men with PTSD also have problems with alcohol. The next most common co-occurring problems in men are depression, followed by conduct disorder, and then problems with drugs.

In women, the most common co-occurring problem is depression. Just under half of women with PTSD also experience depression.

The next most common co-occurring problems in women are specific fears, social anxiety, and then problems with alcohol.

People with PTSD often have problems functioning.

In general, people with PTSD have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and chance of being fired than people without PTSD.

Vietnam veterans with PTSD were found to have many problems with family and other interpersonal relationships, problems with employment, and increased incidents of violence.

People with PTSD also may experience a wide variety of physical symptoms. This is a common occurrence in people who have depression and other anxiety disorders.

Some evidence suggests that PTSD may be associated with increased likelihood of developing medical disorders.

Research is ongoing, and it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about which disorders are associated with PTSD.

PTSD is associated with a number of distinctive neurobiological and physiological changes.

PTSD may be associated with stable neurobiological alterations in both the central & autonomic nervous systems, such as altered brainwave activity, decreased volume of the hippocampus, and abnormal “activation of the amygdala. Both the hippocampus and the amygdala are involved in the processing and integration of memory. The amygdala has also been found to be involved in coordinating the body’s fear response.

I think I have PTSD.
   What can I do now?

Many people who might need help for something like PTSD are afraid to go for help.

One out of five people say they might not get help because of what other people might think.

One out of three people say they would not want anyone else to know they were therapy. But almost 50% of people say that there is less shame in seeking help now than there has been in the past .

A study that’s been done of soldiers coming home from Iraq found that only 40% of service members with mental problems said they would get help.

In many cases this was due to the soldiers’ fears about what others would think, and how it could hurt their military careers.

If you think you have PTSD there are a number of things you can do.

You may want to be evaluated for PTSD by psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker specifically trained to assess psychological problems.

You could also discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
If you do not want to be evaluated but feel you have symptoms of PTSD you may choose “watchful waiting.”

Watchful waiting means taking a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won’t need treatment.

If your symptoms do not improve after 3 months and they are either causing you distress or are getting in the way of your work or home life, talk with a health professional.

In a few cases, your symptoms may be so severe that you need immediate help.

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you think that you cannot keep from hurting yourself or someone else.

For more information see http:// www.ncptsd.va.gov/

You are not alone.

cps
What Treatments Are Available For PTSD?

wpid-700207239721384987.jpg

PTSD is treated by a variety of forms of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and pharmacotherapy (medication).

There is no single best treatment, but some treatments appear to be quite promising, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).  CBT includes a number of diverse but related techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). For most people symptoms improve over the first year.

Treatment also reduces symptoms but for some symptoms can last a lifetime.
Roughly 30% of individuals develop a chronic form of PTSD.

PTSD usually involves periods of symptom increase followed by remission or decrease, although some individuals may experience symptoms that are long lasting and severe.

Some older veterans, who report a lifetime of only mild symptoms, experience significant increases in symptoms following retirement, severe medical illness in themselves or their spouses, or reminders of their military service, such as reunions and anniversaries.

What other problems do people with PTSD experience?

It is very common for other conditions to occur along with PTSD, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

More than half of men with PTSD also have problems with alcohol. The next most common co-occurring problems in men are depression, followed by conduct disorder, and then problems with drugs.

In women, the most common co-occurring problem is depression. Just under half of women with PTSD also experience depression.

The next most common co-occurring problems in women are specific fears, social anxiety, and then problems with alcohol.

People with PTSD often have problems functioning.

In general, people with PTSD have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and chance of being fired than people without PTSD.

Vietnam veterans with PTSD were found to have many problems with family and other interpersonal relationships, problems with employment, and increased incidents of violence.

People with PTSD also may experience a wide variety of physical symptoms. This is a common occurrence in people who have depression and other anxiety disorders.

Some evidence suggests that PTSD may be associated with increased likelihood of developing medical disorders.

Research is ongoing, and it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about which disorders are associated with PTSD.

PTSD is associated with a number of distinctive neurobiological and physiological changes.

PTSD may be associated with stable neurobiological alterations in both the central & autonomic nervous systems, such as altered brainwave activity, decreased volume of the hippocampus, and abnormal “activation of the amygdala. Both the hippocampus and the amygdala are involved in the processing and integration of memory. The amygdala has also been found to be involved in coordinating the body’s fear response.

I think I have PTSD.
   What can I do now?

Many people who might need help for something like PTSD are afraid to go for help.

One out of five people say they might not get help because of what other people might think.

One out of three people say they would not want anyone else to know they were therapy. But almost 50% of people say that there is less shame in seeking help now than there has been in the past .

A study that’s been done of soldiers coming home from Iraq found that only 40% of service members with mental problems said they would get help.

In many cases this was due to the soldiers’ fears about what others would think, and how it could hurt their military careers.

If you think you have PTSD there are a number of things you can do.

You may want to be evaluated for PTSD by psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker specifically trained to assess psychological problems.

You could also discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
If you do not want to be evaluated but feel you have symptoms of PTSD you may choose “watchful waiting.”

Watchful waiting means taking a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won’t need treatment.

If your symptoms do not improve after 3 months and they are either causing you distress or are getting in the way of your work or home life, talk with a health professional.

In a few cases, your symptoms may be so severe that you need immediate help.

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you think that you cannot keep from hurting yourself or someone else.

For more information see http:// www.ncptsd.va.gov/

You are not alone.

Uncategorized
What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event.

A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD.

People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms.

1) The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else.

2) The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb.

3) The third set of symptoms includes things such as feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.

image

In addition to the symptoms described above, we now know that there are clear biological changes that are associated with PTSD.

PTSD is complicated by the fact that people with PTSD often may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health.

These problems may lead to impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and family problems.

PTSD can be treated with with psychotherapy (“talk” therapy) and medicines such as antidepressants. Early treatment is important and may help reduce long-term symptoms. Unfortunately, many people do not know that they have PTSD or do not seek treatment.

The information in this article will help you to better understand PTSD and the how it can be treated.

How does PTSD develop?

PTSD develops in response to a traumatic event. About 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event in their lifetime.

Most people who are exposed to a traumatic event will have some of the symptoms of PTSD in the days and weeks after the event.

For some people these symptoms are more severe and long lasting. The reasons why some people develop PTSD are still being studied. There are biological, psychological and social factors that affect the development of PTSD.

Some research shows that ethnic minorities, such as Blacks and Hispanics, are more likely than Whites to develop PTSD. One reason for these differences is that minorities may have more contact with traumatic events.
For example, in Vietnam, Whites were in less combat than Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians.

Researchers are trying to understand other reasons for the differences in PTSD between the ethnic groups. A person’s culture or ethnic group can affect how that person reacts to a problem like PTSD. For example, some people may be more willing than others to talk about their problems or to seek help.

How long does PTSD last?

The course of PTSD is variable. This means it can be different for different people and that it can change over time. PTSD usually begins right after the traumatic event but it can also be physical abuse.

The most traumatic events for women are rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, and childhood physical abuse.
PTSD is more common in “at-risk” groups such as those serving in combat.

About 30% of the men and women who served in Vietnam experience PTSD. An additional 20% to 25% have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives.

More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced “clinically serious stress reaction symptoms.” PTSD has also been detected among veterans of other wars. Estimates of PTSD from the Gulf War are as high as 10%.

Estimates from the war in Afghanistan are between 6 and 11%. Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12% to 20%.

Who is most likely to develop PTSD?

Most people who experience a traumatic event will not develop PTSD. However, the risk for developing PTSD increases if people:

• were directly exposed to the traumatic event as a victim or a witness

• were seriously injured during the trauma

• experienced a trauma that was long lasting or very severe

• saw themselves or a family member as being in imminent danger

• had a severe negative reaction during the event, such as feeling detached from ones surroundings or having a panic attack

• felt helpless during the trauma and were unable to help themselves or a loved one.

Individuals are also more likely to develop PTSD if they:

• have experienced an earlier life threatening event or trauma

• have a current mental health issue

• have less education

• are younger

• are a woman

• lack social support

• have recent, stressful life changes.

Some research shows that ethnic minorities, such as Blacks and Hispanics, are more likely than Whites to develop PTSD. One reason for these differences is that minorities may have more contact with traumatic events.

For example, in Vietnam, Whites were in less combat than Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians. Researchers are trying to understand other reasons for the differences in PTSD between the ethnic groups.

A person’s culture or ethnic group can affect how that person reacts to a problem like PTSD. For example, some people may be more willing than others to talk about their problems or to seek help.

What other problems do people with PTSD experience?

It is very common for other conditions to occur along with PTSD, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

More than half of men with PTSD also have problems with alcohol. The next most common co-occurring problems in men are depression, followed by conduct disorder, and then problems with drugs.

In women, the most common co-occurring problem is depression. Just under half of women with PTSD also experience depression.

The next most common co-occurring problems in women are specific fears, social anxiety, and then problems with alcohol.

People with PTSD often have problems functioning.

In general, people with PTSD have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and chance of being fired than people without PTSD. Vietnam veterans with PTSD were found to have many problems with family and other interpersonal relationships, problems with employment, and increased incidents of violence.

People with PTSD also may experience a wide variety of physical symptoms. This is a common occurrence in people who have depression and other anxiety disorders. Some evidence suggests that PTSD may be associated with increased likelihood of developing medical disorders.

Research is ongoing, and it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about which disorders are associated with PTSD. PTSD is associated with a number of distinctive neurobiological and physiological changes. PTSD may be associated with stable neurobiological alterations in both the central and autonomic nervous systems, such as altered brainwave activity, decreased volume of the hippocampus, and abnormal activation of the amygdala.

Both the hippocampus and the amygdala are involved in the processing and integration of memory. The amygdala has also been found to be involved in coordinating the body’s fear response.