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Free Trauma and Stress Related Disorders Essay Sample


In the contemporary society, stress and trauma related disorders are a common occurrence. Stress has become an unavoidable part of daily life, translating into different things to different people. Individuals have become more aware of stress and its impact on health. However, despite this awareness, the topic of stress and trauma-related disorders is still poorly understood. There are many myths regarding stress and trauma which increase the rate of confusion. In the 21st century, life has become significantly complicated than previously. Individuals live in stressing environments and are less physically active. Additionally, children are not being spared as they have been observed to be affected by stress. Nowadays, there is a different kind of stress, and trauma-related disorders entail the post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) which have far-reaching implications on individuals' lives. The disorder has numerous diagnostic features and rule outs. Its prevalence bears a striking resemblance to other disorders. However, PSTD has various treatment options.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The contemporary society involves a PTSD caused by wars and accidents among other events. Soldiers coming from war areas like Afghanistan and Iraq have been observed to exhibit certain stress-related symptoms. The same symptoms have been identified in individuals who have undergone traumatic events. Thereby, such indicators are considered to be a post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PSTD is observed in some of the individuals who have experienced fear, shocking or dangerous events. Fear is common among people undergoing traumatic events, and it is necessary for assisting the body in coping with the situation. Individuals experiencing anxiety usually recover after some time, but those with PSTD do not, and they may feel frightened and stressed even when the danger is avoided. The disorder has various symptoms ranging from disturbing feelings, thoughts or dreams related to the events. However, it is not a must that individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will develop the disorder. PSTD may impact both children and adults.

Diagnostic Features

PSTD has been associated with many features. The common distinct symptoms of the disorder are re-experiencing symptoms. Usually, PSTD victims involuntarily re-experience aspects of the stressing event in a clear and distressing manner. It involves flashbacks in which the victim feels or acts as if the event is repetitive, horrifying, disturbing, and involves repetitive intrusive images or other sensory imprints from the traumatic occurrence. When such reminders of the stressing event occur, they invoke increased physiological and distress reactions. For children, re-experiencing symptoms might usually assume the form of recurrent play, re-enacting the experience or scary dreams without fathomable content. Another diagnostic feature of the disorder involves avoidance of reminders of the trauma. Such reminders may be in the form of individuals, circumstances or situations associated or resembling the event. PSTD victims attempt to discard memories of the occurrence out of their minds and avert talking or thinking about it, especially regarding its bad moments. Common features among the victims include hyperarousal and emotional numbing symptoms and other associated symptoms of guilt and depression.

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Course of Illness

Regarding PSTD course, in the first month, the beginning of the symptoms development is mostly following the traumatic occurrence though in a few individuals there may be a delay in months or years before manifestation of the symptoms. In the first months and years following the disturbing occurrence, PSTD reveals a significant natural recovery. While an increased percentage of trauma survivors will develop symptoms of PSTD, a higher percentage of the victims recover without having undergone any treatment of any kind in the ensuing years with a sharp decline in the disorder rates occurring in the first year. Likewise, a small fraction of individuals who initially develop the disorder remain symptomatic for at least three years or longer and are at a danger of secondary conditions like substance and drug abuse. This fact has raised vital questions regarding the start of treatment for such individuals and the identification of victims who fail to recover. Nonetheless, the course of PSTD is one that relies on the capability of the victim deal with the painful event. Eventually, those who fail to recover from the events are identified to begin treatment and the recovery process.

Prevalence of Illness

In the present world, the available estimates regarding PSTD incidence and prevalence results mainly from large-scale studies undertaken in the United States are confined to information on adults. Thus, it still lingers to be proven whether the information applies to other nations of the world and youngsters. Nevertheless, it has been established that the mainstream of the individuals will experience at least one traumatic occurrence in their lifetime. Besides, among the leading causes of PSTD, there are voluntary actions of interpersonal violence mainly combat and sexual assault. These stressors are more likely to cause the disorder compared to disasters or accidents.

Research has established that men are more susceptible to PSTD than women, though women experience increased impact occurrences most of which are likely to result to PSTD. Likewise, in reaction to a traumatic incident, it has been established that men are more prone to developing PSTD than women. However, owing to research conducted in the United States using the DSM-III-R criteria, women are rated higher than men regarding PSTD lifetime prevalence. Nonetheless, increased incidences of PSTD have been observed with the older age group. Risk factors and demographics have been classified as a vital aspect in determining prevalence in women. For instance, women and widows who have undergone divorce reveal high chances of acquiring PSTD.

Possible Differential Diagnosis and Rule-outs

Usually, not all traumatic events result in an individual developing PSTD as the disorder is not the only one instigated by a disturbing occurrence. Nonetheless, there are differential disorders. In the field of medicine and healthcare, differential diagnosis represents the pinpointing of a certain disorder or disease from a range of others presenting identical clinical characteristics. Regarding PSTD, differential disorders to be considered include depression, which is characterized by a lack of energy, predominance of low morale, suicidal intentions, and loss of interest. Another disorder entails specific phobias characterized by avoidance and fear restricted to particular circumstances.

Another rule out refers to adjustment disorders identified with different symptoms patterns and less acute stressors. In addition, enduring personality variations following a traumatic experience associated with various symptoms' patterns and extended severe stressors is vital. Other differential diagnoses include dissociative disorders and psychosis like delusions and hallucinations, and finally, neurological impairment owing to injuries received during the occurrence. Moreover, the PSTD might similarly exist together with various disorders stated and mostly anxiety and depression disorders.

Unique Features of the Disorder

The majority of disorders exhibit certain features which help them to be distinguished among others. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, there are four main features of the PSTD. The unique features of the disorder are in the form of its symptoms which aid in its identification. One feature associated with PSTD involves relieving the event, which is similarly regarded to as re-experiencing symptoms (Sweeton n.d.). Thus, memories of the disturbing occurrence may re-appear at any given time, and the individual might experience the same horror and fear he/she did when the actual event happened. For instance, the victim may experience nightmares, feel like she/he is going through the same occurrence again typically regarded to as flashback. Additionally, the victim might smell, hear or smell something that vividly reminds him/her of the event. It often triggers with instances witnessing accidents, news reports, and hearing backfiring cars among others.

Another unique feature is avoiding situations that remind one of the occurrences. An individual might attempt to avert instances or people that evoke memories of the disturbing incident. In addition, the attempt may include avoiding talking or thinking of the occurrence. For example, such individuals have been observed to avoid crowds since they feel detrimental and avoiding driving among others. Likewise, adverse changes in feelings and beliefs represent another feature associated with PSTD. Usually, an individual's perception and line of thought vary on the traumatic occurrence. There are various features related to this including a lack of positive and loving feelings towards other people, forgetting segment of the disturbing incident, and increased distrust. Finally, hype arousal represents another distinctive feature of the PSTD, which makes the victim feel nervous, always alert and on the lookout for harm and jittery. This may be associated with challenging times during sleep, difficulty of focusing, and unnecessary startles among others.

Treatment Options and Outcomes

Treatment of the PSTD begins after symptoms are identified. There are numerous treatment options for individuals suffering from the disorder. One approach entails psychological debriefing which represents a specific therapeutic face-to-face session with the victim and usually effective immediately following the traumatic event. Usually, attending therapy soon after the event aids the victim cope with their recovery of feelings, and thus expression and solution to it in an efficient manner that shall avoid future emotional numbness or impairment. PSTD treatment options are usually classified as exposure technique, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and pharmacological measures.

In exposure approaches, an individual is re-exposed to the event memory and the entire feelings and emotions focused on that occurrence. In EMDR treatment, a patient is forced to remember and recall the main trauma with negative thoughts, then the victim searches strengthening emotions to counter the negative emotion with the help of the counselor. Undergoing pharmacological treatment, the patient is prescribed various drugs and medications with the leading prescribed drug being an antidepressant. Other treatment options that have been considered useful includes the trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy. Usually, when such treatment has been fully implemented, notable improvement has been observed. In cases where the treatment takes place immediately after the event, it has even helped prevent the victim from falling into the PSTD.

Research in the Field

Considering that the PSTD is now a common occurrence and disorder among individuals, a thorough research is being conducted regarding the issue. Research findings on diagnosis, assessment, prevention, and treatment are being implemented to offer optimal care. Additionally, a new research is being fostered on innovative plans for PSTD management, facilitating the translation of new research findings to individuals suffering from PSTD, and to their healthcare framework.


In conclusion, PSTD is a common disorder prevalent in the contemporary society. It has adverse impacts ranging from suicidal tendencies to other extreme outcomes. Individuals have been observed as having to undergo a traumatic occurrence at any period of their lives. PSTD diagnostic features include re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance of trauma triggers, attempting to discard trauma memories and hyperarousal. PSTD symptoms begin during the first month following the event. In other instances, it can delay in several months or years. Some victims recover without treatment while others remain symptomatic for a lengthy time. PSTD is more common among men than women though it has been observed to impact women more in lifetime prevalence. Possible PSTD rule-outs include depression, specific phobias, and dissociative disorders among others. The main unique features of PSTD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that trigger memories of the event, negative variations in victim's feelings and beliefs, and hyperarousal. The PSTD is treated through psychological debriefing, family therapy, and pharmacological treatment. Nonetheless, a research continues to be conducted in the field to facilitate optimal care.


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