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Causes and Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

            Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops usually in response to an overwhelmingly terrifying, often life-threatening event (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It is debilitating in nature and it can stem from serious traumatic incidents such as actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation (Keane & Barlow, 2002). When a person witnesses any psychologically traumatic event, it invokes a sense of intense fear and helplessness within them. This triggers post traumatic symptoms which at times may worsen so intensely, that PTSD is developed. Symptoms of PTSD are so devastating that they become problematic in a person's daily life. Bad dreams, fearful thoughts, flashbacks are some of the recurring symptoms. Flashbacks may consist of images, sounds, smell or even feelings. Dissociative reactions such as flashbacks could cause the sufferer to experience the same intense sense of physical feelings or emotions that occurred in the traumatic incident (Keane & Barlow, 2002). Sometimes, the event is re-experienced intrusively in thoughts, dreams or there is even an intense reactivity to reminders. Further, emotionally PTSD sufferers could become easily agitated, aggressive and restless, experience intense guilt or depression and even lose interest from engaging in former enjoyable activities. Physical symptoms documented are neurological, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms. Other symptoms include disturbance in sleep cycle, engaging in self destructive behavior and being hyper vigilant. PTSD affects people of all ages and backgrounds, mainly, survivors who have been exposed to a severe and extreme stressor. Human inflicted harm like rape, assault, abuse and combat experience seem to be associated with higher risk for developing PTSD (Keane & Barlow, 2002). Across gender, women are more likely to develop PTSD as they are more susceptible to sexual assaults and abuses.

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