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Facts about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

written by: Shel1488 • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 1/6/2011

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that grips millions of Americans and can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. It may emerge months or even years after the traumatic experience. This article contains a list of useful facts about post traumatic stress disorder.

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    A person with PTSD may be plagued with flashbacks, nightmares, and hallucinations related to the triggering traumatic event. The person may then make a habit of avoiding people and places associated with that unforgettable situation. Of course, there is a lot more to this psychological condition than the definition implies. The following is a list of facts about post traumatic stress disorder.

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    1) The Many Names of PTSD

    Before we came to know PTSD by its modern name, it held various other titles. For example, during the American Civil War, the condition was “soldier’s heart.” During World War I, the term “combat fatigue” was attached to the symptoms.” By World War II, the illness was “gross stress reaction.” “Shell shock” and “post-Vietnam syndrome” are further examples.

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    2) Triggering Events

    One of the other important facts about post traumatic stress disorder is that it usually develops in individuals who have experienced abuse, natural disasters, combat in war or any other form of traumatic event. However, an individual does not have to experience a dangerous situation personally to develop PTSD. For example, you can develop PTSD after witnessing someone else injured and placed in danger. PTSD stemming from impersonal trauma tends to be less severe.

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    3) PTSD Among Vietnam Veterans

    More than half of male Vietnam veterans and nearly half of female Vietnam veterans have experienced PTSD or a milder form of the condition.

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    4) Gender and Ethnic Differences

    PTSD occurs twice as often in females than in males. Also, the condition seems to occur more often in minority groups than in caucasians. Differences in social perceptions and social environments may play a role in this difference in prevalence between ethnic groups.

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    5) Effects of PTSD in Children

    As with adults, PTSD can hinder a child's emotional and social development. The condition can also negatively influence their ability to learn. For example, children with PTSD may have trouble with the toilet training process.

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    6) Symptoms of PTSD in Children

    Symptoms of PTSD in children may include intrusive flashbacks, insomnia, depression, detachment and regressive behavior, such as thumb sucking or bed wetting. In addition, they may reenact events that remind them of the trauma during playtime.

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    7) Risk Factors

    Lengthier traumatic events may result in more severe cases of PTSD. In addition, the more traumatic events that an individual experiences, the more likely PTSD is to develop. Other risk factors include lacking social support and having a history of emotional conditions.

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    8) Resistance to PTSD

    Disaster-preparedness training may help shield an individual from PTSD and related conditions. Because of this, firefighters and paramedics are less susceptible to PTSD than individuals who have not undergone training. However, this does not mean that firefighters and paramedics are completely immune to anxiety disorders.

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    9) Relation to Other Conditions

    Often times, PTSD co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders. Nearly 90 percent of men and 80 percent of women with PTSD suffer from disorders such as alcohol dependence, drug abuse, social phobia and major depressive disorder. In addition, less severe anxiety conditions, such as acute stress disorder, may lead to PTSD.