Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Gunshots, sirens, screams, fights, body bags, fear, anxiety, worry, drug abuse, inability to focus are contributing things normally linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).   Imagine being exposed to such an environment day in and day out for weeks, months and God forbid years.  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders there are at least 5 Criterion that must be met in order to diagnose PTSD:

1a.  Symptoms follow exposure to an extreme traumatic stress inducing event where the individual directly was impacted or witnessed events involving death, critical injury, threat of physical harm or threat of death.

1b.  An individuals response to events such as those in Criterion 1a are of intense fear, helplessness or even horror and agitated or disorganized behavior in younger children.

2.  The intensity experienced in 1b of fear, helplessness, horror, agitation and disorganized behavior resulting from exposure to events must be a persistent re-exposure to the traumatic event(s).

3.  The over exertion of energy to avoid stimuli associated the the initial traumatic event and a numbing of general responsiveness

4.  There is an abnormal and persistent increased arousal in the here and now that is not in line with what is happening presently.

5.  The abnormal expression of 2 – 4 above must be manifested in a person for at least on month.

6.  The abnormal expressions of an individual must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of daily functions. 

Surprisingly it is easier for individuals to determine that individuals who have gone off to war and returned might be acting differently than it is to make a similar determination of individuals in the general population.  I recall as a boy hearing my parents talk about men who had fought in World War 2 and Korea who weren’t the same as before going off to war.  The general term used to describe the changed behavior was “shell shocked”.  Men that I grew up with went to Viet Nam and some came back very agitated, anxious, paranoid, fearful and even addicted to drugs.  Over the past decade ten’s of thousand men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been impacted by road side bombs, direct gun fights, rocket propelled grenades and suicide bombers.  War is an incubator for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and when our men and women return home they as well as family and friends truly hope everything will be as normal as it was before they were deployed.  The sad reality in far too many cases however is that war is an ongoing traumatic theater for the duration of one’s deployment.  

Traumatic events according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are not restricted to combat in the military.  Violent personal attacks such as sexual assaults, physical assaults, robbery, kidnapping, torture, imprisonment or even automobile accidents may also cause PTSD.  Children and adults in communities around the United States of America are experiencing PTSD and are many times dismissed as being socially maladjusted.  The communities where gunshots, murder, robbery, street violence exists daily, both young and old, black and white are living in exposure to the possibility of becoming victims of PTSD.  When such individuals leave the stress inducing environments of their upbringing, there is the misconception that they are able to function in a more stable work environment, a more stable community, a more stable church, a more stable marriage or more stable social settings free of the stress inducing traumatic pass.  Without any warning and regardless of where a person might find themselves,  something may trigger inside a person and they will actually experience anew the same emotions as what happened in the war zones of Iraq, Viet Nam, or even where one grew up. 

Children who were raped or constantly exposed to domestic violence and or neglect, or constantly lived in fear or witnessed chaos, might easily experience undiagnosed PTSD as an adult.  What happened at Fort Hood Texas on yesterday must be studied from the soldiers history not just based on his apparent state of mind on the day of the event, but what was his complete history from childhood, to marriage, to becoming a soldier, to the experience in Iraq and the impact of his most recent move to Texas.

Do you know individuals whose behaviors appear to be very unpredictable or agitated, suspicious of others in a manner that does not seem to bother most other individuals? 

 

Advertisements

There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: