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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.
Causes, Incidence, and Risk factors
PTSD can occur at any age. It can follow a natural disaster such as flood or fire, or even events such as:
For example, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 may have caused PTSD in some people who were involved, in people who saw the disaster, and in people who lost relatives or friends.
Veterans returning home from a war often have PTSD.
The cause of PTSD is unknown. Psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).
It is not known why traumatic events cause PTSD in some people and not in others. Having a history of trauma may increase your risk for getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event.
Symptoms fall into three main categories
1. Reliving the event, which disturbs day to day activity.
Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
Repeated upsetting memories of the event
Repeated nightmares of the event
Strong uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
Emotional “numbing” or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
Having a lack of interest in normal activities
Showing less of your moods
Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
Feeling like you have no future
Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
Feeling more aware (hyper vigilance)
Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
Having trouble falling or staying asleep
You might feel guilt about the event (including “survivor guilt“) You might also have some of the following symptoms which are typical of anxiety, stress, and tension:
Agitation or excitability
Feeling your heart beat in your chest
Signs and Tests
There are no tests that can be done to diagnose PTSD. The diagnoses is made based on certain symptoms.
Your health care provider may ask for how long you have had symptoms. This will help your health care provider know if you have PTSD or a similar condition called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).
In PTSD, symptoms are present for at least 30 days.
In ASD, symptoms will be present for a shorter period of time.
Your health care provider may also do mental health exams, and blood tests to look for other illnesses that are similar to PTSD.
Treatment can help prevent PTSD from developing after a trauma. A good social support system may also help protect against PTSD.
If PTSD does occur, a form of “desensitization” may be used.
This treatment helps reduce symptoms by encouraging you to remember the traumatic event and express your feelings about it.
Over time memories of the event should become less frightening.
Support groups, where people who have had similar experiences share their feelings, may also be helpful.
People with PTSD may also have problems with:
Alcohol or other substance abuse
Related medical conditions
You can increase the chance of a good outcome with
Strong social support
Calling your healthcare provider
Although traumatic events can cause distress, not all feelings of distress are symptoms of PTSD. Talk about your feelings with friends and relatives. If your symptoms do not improve soon or are making you very upset, contact your health care provider.
Seek help right away if:
You feel overwhelmed
You are thinking of hurting yourself or anybody else
You are unable to control your behavior
You have other very upsetting symptoms of PTSD
You can also contact your health care provider for help with problems such as repeated or upsetting thoughts, irritability, and problems with sleep.
1. Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post traumatic stress disorder Cochrane Database syst,. Rev. 2007;(3):CD0073388
2. Hetrick SE, Purcell R, GarnerB, Parslow B. Combined Pharmachotherapy and psychological therapies for PTSD Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(7)CD007316
3. Roberts NP, Kitchner NJ, Kenardy J, Bisson Jl. Early psychological interventions to treat ACS symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(3):CD007944
4. Gilbertson MW, Orr SP, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008 chap 34
Wise Way Training Stables
Wise Way Training Stables is proud to offer an Equine Assisted Therapy program for our veterans and their families. One of the leading diagnoses of returning troops is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are suffering with PTSD. Our goal is to help any emotionally, physically, mentally challenged or disabled veterans and their families to transition into stable family and societal relationships and achieve an improved quality of life through the application of natural and classical horsemanship methods.
Using horses in therapy is a recognized method of treating many mental, physical and psychological issues. Interaction with horses such as grooming and riding is used to treat these conditions without it feeling like therapy. Horses are versatile, giving a program the ability to custom tailor to the needs of the individual and/or group. Horses are also intuitive, they have the ability to mirror human emotion which can provide a starting point for discussion or help the individual become more aware of how they are feeling.
Some benefits include: