Posttraumatic Stress Disorde
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can follow the experiencing or witnessing of a severe trauma involving the actual or threat of death or serious injury to the self or others. The traumatized person has typically reacted to the trauma with intense fear, helplessness or horror. Alternatively, an accumulation of less intensely damaging situations (‘small ‘t’ traumas’) can over time also lead to PTSD.
The symptoms involve re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive memories, dreams, flashbacks, and intense emotional and physiological responses to cues that resemble the traumatic event. In addition, the person finds himself or herself making frantic efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or activities associated with the trauma. He or she may feel detached from others, lose interest in various activities or pursuits, and may have a sense of a shortened life. Symptoms often also include insomnia, outbursts of irritation or anger, hypervigilance, and poor concentration. These symptoms cause significant impairment in social, occupational, and other areas of functioning. If these symptoms last for one month or less, the diagnosis of Acute Stress is given. If they last longer than one month, the diagnosis of PTSD is given. If the symptoms last longer than three months, the PTSD is considered to be Chronic.
Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) may apply to a person who has experienced trauma, usually ongoing, from significant attachment figures who emotionally, physically, or sexually abused or neglected them. Witnessing ongoing verbal or physical violence or living with parents who engage in substance abuse can be another pathway to C-PTSD. The resulting disruption to the attachment bonds can predispose the person to long-term problems with relationships, self-esteem, emotional dysregulation, shame, and dissociation.