Traumatic Events; Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Congressman, decorated Iraq War veteran, and Democratic candidate for president, recently revealed that he has struggled with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. While PTSD is commonly associated with military veterans or and those who have experienced or witnessed a violent event, it is more common than many people think.
PTSD can occur after a variety of situations that involve the threat of serious injury or death, including natural disasters such as tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, traumatic childbirth; also life-threatening illnesses such as cancer,” said Lisa M. Shin, a psychology professor at Tufts University whose research involves examining brain function and cognitive processing in patients with anxiety disorders, especially PTSD. Approximately 7% of Americans have PTSD at some point in their lifetimes.
The traumatic Events
In recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder Awareness Month this June, Tufts Now spoke to Shin about the condition, the most current forms of treatment; also how people can support love ones dealing with the disorder. Lisa Shin: Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can affect people; so who have experience one or more traumatic events that involve the threat of serious injury or death to oneself or others. Symptoms usually begin within three months of the trauma.
“One of the mysteries of PTSD is that not everyone develops it after exposure to severe trauma,” said Lisa Shin.Some of the classic symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, intrusive memories of the trauma, exaggerate arousal and vigilance, difficulty sleeping, and avoidance of people, topics, or situations that are relate to the trauma.
PTSD can be treat with cognitive-behavioral therapy; which may involve talking about and re-processing the trauma, confronting specific trauma relate fears, and changing one’s assessment of risk and thoughts relate to the trauma. Other treatments include medications such as antidepressants.
Brain function in patients
In fact, my lab is working on a study that addresses this. They measure brain function in patients with PTSD; so then treat them with a behavior therapy called prolong exposure. They measure their symptoms before and after treatment; also then determine whether initial brain activation; so predicts their later improvement in symptoms.
One of the mysteries of PTSD is that not everyone develops; it after exposure to severe trauma. Only about 20 to 30% of those expose to severe trauma develop PTSD. This suggests that some people may be more vulnerable; so to developing PTSD than others, and researchers have trying to identify; so the factors that might make some people more vulnerable.
Social support is well know to help individuals; who suffering from PTSD; so as well as other disorders. We can offer such support to our friends and family members by encouraging them to seek treatment; hence offering to talk about their experiences, and watching for signs of suicidal thinking or excessive substance use. PTSD can feel very isolating, so anything that they can do to counteract that could be helpful.
At the societal level, we have learn that supporting our troops with respect and appreciation is beneficial. Furthermore, my personal opinion is that we as a society can do a better job at eliminating sources of trauma and hence reducing the potential impact of PTSD—such as by taking seriously and acting immediately in response to reports of sexual harassment and violence.