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Characteristics and Treatments of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Research Paper

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder. This disorder occurs after an individual has experienced a traumatizing event that may lead to death or serious injury (Yehuda, 2002). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may occur to any individual irrespective of age or gender. For instance, if a person witnessed or is part of terrible events such as domestic abuse, rape, war, assault, prison stay, terrorism, fire, and floods, he or she may undergo PTSD.

There was limited research undertaken on PSTD before the advent 1980s (Yehuda, 2002). In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association recognized this disorder officially. Currently, advancements are being made on the strategies that can be employed to counter this disorder (Yehuda, 2002). This paper will examine the definition, characteristics, and available forms of treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There are myriads of definitions of abnormal behavior. For in-depth understanding of the background of PTSD is, this paper will adopt a specific definition of abnormality that relates to the disorder itself. In this paper, abnormality has been explored in terms of personal distress.

In this case, abnormality has been viewed in terms of personal subjective feelings and distresses (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009). Therefore, an abnormal person from this point of view is an individual who feels anxious, miserable, and depressed. PTSD can therefore be termed as an abnormality since an individual affected by the condition exhibits at least one of the symptoms used in defining abnormality (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009). This form of abnormality takes away an individual’s character and his/her dignity.

The significant characteristics of PTSD is the consistent repeated visualization of an event once witnessed, avoiding situations that might lead to remembering the event and hyperarousal (Yehuda, 2002). These symptoms vary among different individuals with varied experiences.

In some people, these symptoms often emerge during the first three months from the day of trauma while in others; it might take a long period. Even though there are variations in the PTSD cases among different individuals, the characteristics of this disorder are the same in most cases since the features of the disorder may be typically categorized into three groups as expounded earlier (Yehuda, 2002).

Any form of a traumatizing event will usually affect the daily activities of the victim. In this case, the individual may experience repeated nightmares, flashbacks, upsetting memories, and sometimes a very strong reaction towards an event. The latter may act as a reminder of the traumatic event that the affected person went through (Yehuda, 2002).

The avoidance characteristics of a PTSD victim include the development of emotional behavioral characteristics, lack of hope for the future, tendencies of avoiding people and certain events, a feeling of being detached, inability to remember some aspects associated with the past trauma, general lack of interest in certain common activities, and displaying oneself in such a way that the moods are not openly displayed (Norris & Sloane, 2007).

During the arousal level in PTSD, the affected individual develops difficulties in concentrating, becomes extremely vigilant, begins to startle frequently, easily irritated, experiences lack of sleep, and also encounters the development of exaggerated responses to circumstances that may equally scare the person under post traumatic attack.

It is also possible for an individual to suffer from one, two, or all the three categories of this syndrome. The category of the syndrome will also determine the type of the PTSD the individual is suffering from. The clinical classification of this disorder is based on the symptoms witnessed on the victims who are affected by this disorder. The symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe (Norris & Sloane, 2007).

An individual with mild symptoms of PTSD is in a position to manage the distress that result. As a result, such an affected person may experience mild effects in terms of the occupational and social functioning. Moderate symptoms of PTSD result into manageable anguish. The victim may still be in a position of staying safe or not committing suicide because of such distress.

There are limited cases of impaired functioning. On the other hand, severe cases of PSTD results into unmanageable distresses to the patient that may eventually lead to impaired occupational and social well being. Persons suffering from this kind of PTSD are at high risk of committing suicide as well as harming others.

Generally, this disorder is clinically classified as an anxiety disorder. There are two known types of this disorder namely the acute PTSD and the chronic PTSD (Norris & Sloane, 2007). Although these two classifications of the PTSD have the same symptoms, their health impacts are completely different.

If the disorder affects an individual for a period less than three months, then it is referred to as an acute PTSD. On the other hand, if the disorder affects an individual for more than three months, it is referred to as chronic PTSD. Therefore, an acute PTSD can be managed within three months and if the symptoms of the disorder persist for more than the given period, then it develops into the chronic PTSD.

Although men have recorded the most cases of exposure to traumatizing events, women often undergo several instances of PTSD (Mendelsohn & Sewell, 2004). These observations indicate that in a social setup, women are seen to be more emotional than men and hence vulnerable to such a disorder. In the past, this disorder was perceived by the society to be related to female characteristics.

Men who suffered from this disorder had extremely difficult time in trying to get out of it due to lack of support from the immediate community. When this disorder was clinically recognized and diagnosed, the wrong and misleading perception has significantly changed. It is currently recognized by many as a normal disorder thereby enhancing its treatability.

The social distance that existed in the past has been reduced greatly as many people accept individuals with such a condition (Mendelsohn & Sewell, 2004). Generally, the female gender suffering from this condition receives more support from the society than their male counterparts.

Women are also more welcoming and supportive to individuals with this condition than men (Mendelsohn & Sewell, 2004). The societal responses to an individual suffering from this condition has improved in recent times due to increased knowledge of the condition as well as elimination of mythical ideas of understanding the disorder.

Currently, there are quite a number of methods that can be employed in treating this disorder. This paper will examine two major ways that are currently in use for treating PTSD. Before documentation of this disorder as a clinical syndrome, victims used to have a difficult time to secure prompt treatment.

It was viewed from a mythical and supernatural point of view and patients were subjected to crude forms of treatments (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009). After the year 1980, PTSD was recognized and treatment measures put in place. The most common form of treatment is the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a form of counseling that involves either cognitive processing therapy or prolonged exposure therapy (National Center for PTSD, 2007).

It is very effective method of treating PTSD involving therapeutic involvement to ensure an individual understands the trauma he/she is undergoing and hence effect changes to the reactions towards the trauma. The use of medications is also an effective way of treating PTSD. These medicines make an individual feel less worried or sad. These medications work with the brain chemicals by affecting how an individual feels (National Center for PTSD, 2007).

There are several researches being done on methods that can be employed in preventing PTSD. These methods are both therapeutic and medicinal. Therapists are used to help victims recovering from trauma to deal with the condition in the most efficient way. Medicines that can be used by affected individuals to prevent the onset of the PTSD are also available in most healthcare units (Norris & Sloane, 2007).

Most people are in a position of recovering from a traumatic event. However, some victims end up developing into full blow or chronic PTSD. This mental disorder may persist leading to failure in terms of the recovery process (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009). If the symptoms are handled at the initial development stages of the disorder, the possibility of being treated is also enhanced.

In any case, there is a correlation between PTSD and certain imbalanced brain functions. The treatment simply involves restoring normal brain functioning. In addition, there are variety of clinical and therapeutic methods that have been put in place for sake of preventing and curing the condition. The surrounding environment also affects the rate at which individuals are fully cured from this disorder.


Mendelsohn, M. & Sewell, K. W. (2004). Social Attitudes toward Traumatized Men and Women: A Vignette Study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17(2), 103-111.

Meyer, R., Chapman, L. K., & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. (8th Ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

National Center for PTSD (2007.). Treatment of PTSD. Retrieved from

Norris, F. & Sloane, L. B. (2007). The epidemiology of trauma and PTSD. In: Friedman MJ, Keane TM, Resick PA, eds. Handbook of PTSD: Science and practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Yehuda, R. (2002). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine 346, 108-114.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Characteristics and Treatments of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'. 8 July.

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