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Blake Caudill
Mrs. DeBock
English 4 Honors
March 3, 2016
Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects roughly 6 million Americans. These people are
afflicted with an incurable disease and there is no known cure that will work with 100 percent of
those afflicted. No amount of time can be done to completely undo the past and change whatever
is burdening them. Therapy is believed to help with those that cannot get over the traumatizing
events and be able to proceed to live a normal life. Victims of PTSD are left to deal with these
psychological effects with no known cure and only a belief that it can be helped. However, as
time progresses, scientists and therapists alike are figuring out new methods and ways to help
PTSD.
PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIII) by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 following the Vietnam War when many
were coming home with the symptoms of PTSD. Although, it has been around since the
beginning of humans and that there are reports of people with PTSD symptoms dating all the
way to the American Civil War. There are reasons that it took so long to be recorded as an actual
mental disease due to it being a very unique affliction. According to Matthew J Friedman, PTSD
is unique among psychiatric diagnoses because of the great importance placed upon the
etiological agent, the traumatic stressor (ptsd.va.gov). This means that it is considered unique
purely because something traumatizing has to happen to the person but the trauma can vary

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greatly. The framers of the original PTSD diagnosis had in mind events such as war, torture,
rape, the Nazi Holocaust, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, natural disasters
(such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions), and human-made disasters (such as
factory explosions, airplane crashes, and automobile accidents) (ptsd.va.gov). However, it can
be caused by other things such as a simple death in the family or a loved one being hurt in an
accident. PTSD is believed to happen when a persons adaptive capabilities are completely
overwhelmed and can no longer cope. After a traumatic experience, the human system of selfpreservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment
(ptsd.va.gov).
Therapist Banitt states PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of
enormous proportions with massive repercussions (ptsd.va.gov) PTSD can affect many people
differently. Symptoms are separated into 3 categories: avoidance, re-experiencing, and hyperarousal. Avoidance symptoms include having flash backs, nightmares, and overall dark thoughts.
These symptoms appear randomly and are activated via a trigger. Avoidance symptoms include
staying away from all reminders of the trauma (places, people, or even objects), feeling
emotionally numb, feeling strong guilt and depression, losing interest in activities that you used
to find enjoyable before the traumatizing event, and then having trouble thinking back upon the
event. Avoidance symptoms are symptoms that occur every day and usually affect the persons
day to day routine. Hyper-arousal symptoms include being easily startled, feeling tense or on
edge consistently, and having difficulty sleeping and having outbursts of anger, sadness, or
sluggishness. These symptoms are constant and eat away at the person afflicted. Symptoms of
PTSD occur after the event, but can remain dormant for a couple months after the event and
eventually appear. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have at least one re-

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experiencing symptom, at least three avoidance symptoms, at least two hyper-arousal symptoms,
or symptoms interfere with daily life, such as going to school or work, being with friends, taking
care of important tasks.
Many different treatment options for PTSD are available. All of these use different
techniques to help the victims overcome whatever is traumatizing them. One of the most
commons techniques is exposure based therapy. This method is where you repetitively expose
them to whatever is their trauma. The therapist then proceeds to talk them down from their state
of panic and slowly over time, this process gets easier and easier. They will talk about how it is
no longer necessary to feel panicked about the whole situation. The idea behind this method is
the constant reliving of the trauma should become easier and no longer make the patient enter
into a state of fear. Another method is cognitive based therapy. This is where the therapist teaches
the patient relaxation methods and how to compose themselves if they ever feel themselves to
begin to lose control. The thought process behind this therapy is that rational thought can impact
the brain enough to where they dont feel panicked anymore. This method is also used where the
therapist continually talks about the issue with the therapist. However, rather than doing this
nonstop with the therapist so the event no longer feel traumatizing, they therapist works with the
PTSD patient to find a trigger than can connect him backed no longer begin to panic. This is
where the famous saying go to your happy place comes from. Another type of therapy is stress
inoculation therapy. This is usually combined with one of the other treatments and is used purely
as relaxation. This is most commonly associated with breathing exercises and muscle relaxation
methods. Another treatment is eye movement, desensitization, and reprocessing. This type of
treatment is usually where the patient holds the memory in his or her mind and rather than focus
on it, they focus on a movement with their eyes and the therapist usually guides them with their

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finger. The final treatment that most therapists are not actually convinced on is group therapy.
Despite the research, which shows that this treatment is fairly effective, most therapists believe it
can do as much harm as it can benefit the patient. This is where you gather many people with
similar problems and reasons to be at therapy and discuss the issues together. Many therapist
believe it takes a lot of the power out of the therapist and puts it into the group of people that are
attending therapy which can be scary as they are also inflicted with the issues. The group has too
much power to where the therapist cannot exactly control whether someone will be accepted into
the group which can harm a patients mentality even more (Howard B Roback).
As therapists and scientist figure out what exactly is PTSD, they can work to solve it. As
studies come out, therapist can figure out which method is best to use on certain patients. It is a
newly recognized psychological condition even though it has been around for a long time. They
learn more about the science behind it and treatment options. Most of the therapies for PTSD are
still highly controversial and messing up can ruin a patients life. More is learned every day.
Hopes are that eventually PTSD can be cured so that the victim can live a completely normal life
rather than just coped with.

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Works Cited
"A Quote from Trauma and Recovery." Goodreads. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." : Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help for PTSD. Web.
3 Mar. 2016.
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." NIMH RSS. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.
"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America,
ADAA." Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of
America, ADAA. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.
"PTSD: National Center for PTSD." Treatment of PTSD -. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.
Roback, Howard B. "Adverse Outcomes in Group Psychotherapy: Risk Factors, Prevention, and
Research Directions." The Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research. American
Psychiatric Press, Inc. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
Thompson, Mark. "Unlocking The Secrets Of PTSD." Time 185.12 (2015): 40-43. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.
Watts, Bradley V., et al. "Understanding And Meeting Information Needs For Patients With
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder." BMC Psychiatry 16.(2016): 1-7. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.