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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

22 September, 2015 - 15:33

“If you imagine burnt pork and plastic; I can still taste it,” says Chris Duggan, on his experiences as a soldier in the Falklands War in 1982. “These helicopters were coming in and we were asked to help get the boys off…when they opened the doors the stench was horrendous.”

When he left the army in 1986, he suffered from PTSD. “I was a bit psycho,” he says. “I was verbally aggressive, very uncooperative. I was arguing with my wife, and eventually we divorced. I decided to change the kitchen around one day, get all new stuff, so I threw everything out of the window. I was 10 stories up in a flat. I poured brandy all over the video and it melted. I flooded the bathroom.” (Gould, 2007) 1

People who have survived a terrible ordeal, such as combat, torture, sexual assault, imprisonment, abuse, natural disasters, or the death of someone close to them may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The anxiety may begin months or even years after the event. People with PTSD experience high levels of anxietyalong with re experiencing the trauma (flashbacks), and a strong desire to avoid any reminders of the event. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy; startle easily; have difficulty feeling affection; and may experience terror, rage, depression, or insomnia. The symptoms may be felt especially when approaching the area where the event took place or when the anniversary of that event is near.

PTSD affects about 5 million Americans, including victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina. Sixteen percent of Iraq war veterans, for example, reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD (Hoge & Castro, 2006). 2 PTSD is a frequent outcome of childhood or a dult sexual abuse, a disorder that has its own Diagnosticand Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnosis. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men (Davidson, 2000). 3

Risk factors for PTSD include the degree of the trauma’s severity, the lack of family and community support, and additional life stressors (Brewin, Andrews, & Valentine, 2000). 4 Many people with PTSD also suffer from another mental disorder, particularly depression, other anxiety disorders, and substance abuse (Brady, Back, & Coffey, 2004). 5