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Emotional Maltreatment Statute Summary

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POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER


What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional condition that often occurs after direct or indirect exposure to a terrifying event in which physical harm was threatened, witnessed, or actually experienced.

A traumatic event is defined as one in which a person experienced or witnessed an event that “involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others from which involved intense fear, helplessness or horror.” 

Post traumatic stress can happen at any age.  It can occur as a sudden, short-term response, or it can develop gradually and become chronic and persistent. 

People with this disorder try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the trauma.  However, despite the avoidance, people with PTSD often re-experience the ordeal in the form of intense “flashbacks,” memories, nightmares, or frightening  thoughts, especially when they are exposed to objects or events that remind them of their trauma according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

According to the National Institute  of Mental Health studies  have indicated that people who live with this disorder tend to have abnormal levels of key hormones involved in the stress response.  Research has shown that their cortical levels are lower than normal and their epinephrine and nor epinephrine are higher than normal.  This all plays an important role in the body’s “fight or flight” because the body is preparing itself to do this.....to fight off the danger, or run like crazy to get away.

Researchers call “physiologic-habituation” a phenomenon when a person’s body shows adaptations over time to their chronic post traumatic stress.  Research is currently being conducted to further investigate causes and consequences of PTSD.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PTSD

  • Sleeplessness

  • Nightmares

  • Inability to get along with others, particularly in close or “out of control” relationships

  • Paranoia and distrust

  • Persistent, intense fear and anxiety

  • Feeling easily agitate

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling numb or detached

  • No longer finding pleasure in previously enjoyable activities

  • Feeling helpless

  • Experiencing intense survivor guilt

  • Unwillingness to discuss or revisit in any way the site of the trauma

  • Preoccupied with the traumatic event

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, or dizziness

  • Suicidal thoughts, plans, or gestures

INTENSE SHUTDOWN OF EMOTIONS MAY CAUSE

  • Attacks against loved ones

  • Vengeful behavior

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Panic attacks

  • Physical complaints

  • Muscle/Body pain with or without medical evidence

  • Highly agitated behavior

  • Poor impulse control

  • Compulsive behavior                                         

  • Increased stress on holidays or anniversary dates

EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF TRAUMA

  • Survivor is continually buffeted by terror and rage

  • Oscillates between intense feelings then numbness and internal deadness

  • Immeasurable sorrow and deep grief

  • Shattered dreams

  • Intrusive memories

  • Flashbacks

  • Freezing with fright

  • Fear of insanity

  • Guilt,  shame, helplessness, loneliness, alienation

FREEZE RESPONSE

  • The immobility response/dissociate

  • Exacerbates the problem for those that go on to develop PTSD

  • Cycling back and forth results in a sustained, high-level alarm stat which produces:

  • Excitability

  • Super-sensitivity

  • Health related complaints

HOW IS PTSD DIAGNOSED?

PTSD is diagnosed if symptoms last more than one month.  Symptoms may appear within three months of trauma, but can also start months or years later.  Assessments are made by a physician, pediatrician, or clinician.  The acronym DREAMS is used as a diagnostic in PTSD....it means:

  • D:  Detachment

  • R:  Re-experiences

  • E:  Event

  • A   A traumatic event that triggered the distress

  • M:  Month symptoms present one month or longer

  • S:  Sympathetic  hyperactivity: trouble concentrating hyperactivity

HOW IS PTSD TREATED?

Methods used:

  1.  Psychological debriefing

  2  Cognitive-behavioral therapy 

         a.   Teaching coping skills and how to deal with environment.

         b.   Exposure therapy used to desensitize the patient to the trauma  

  3. Education

         a.    Coping skills are taught  (slow breathing etc.)

  4.  Medication therapy

For more information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

American Academy of  Experts in Traumatic Stress
http://www.aaets.org

Davis Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages
http://www.trauma-pages.com

Gift From Within -PTSD Resources
http://www.giftfromwithin.org

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.
http://www.icisf.org

 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
http://www.istss.org

National Center for PTSD
http://www.ncptsd.org/

 


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