POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

 

PTSD is a serious emotional illness that is classified as an anxiety disorder and usually develops as a result of an unsafe, life-threatening or a terribly frightening experience that someone has witnessed or personally experienced. Sufferers of PTSD will relive that traumatic experience or event and tend to avoid places, people or things that remind them of the incident. They also tend to be hypersensitive to normal life experiences.

 

Although this condition has likely been in existence since trauma has existed, PTSD has only been recognized as a formal diagnosis since 1980. War veterans serving during World War I who expressed symptoms consistent with PTSD were said to be suffering from “combat fatigue” or “soldier’s heart.” Those complaining of combat-related emotional issues stemming from conflict in Vietnam were labeled as having “post-Vietnam syndrome” or “battle fatigue”. Prolonged exposure to a traumatic event characterized by ongoing problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning is referred to as complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

 

Currently, statistics state that 5 million people in the United States suffer from PTSD at any one time, or7%-8% of the population. Statistics for combat veterans and rape victims increase, with likelihood of PTSD rising to 10%-30% in these categories. Mental health services report that nearly half of all patients utilizing outpatient care have been found to suffer from PTSD, a statistic that has exploded due to the occurrence of numerous traumatic events recently in the United States, including the 2001 terrorist attacks.

 

PTSD is a lingering consequence of a traumatic experience that caused intense fear, helplessness or horror, such as sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war or natural disaster. Families of victims may also develop this condition, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.

 

Common reactions to similar events include shock, anger, nervousness, fear and even guilt. For most people, these emotions and reactions will calm down over time, however, for a person with PTSD, these feelings continue and may even become so intense that the sufferer is unable to sustain a normal level of function. A PTSD sufferer generally experiences these feelings for more than one month and does not function as well as they did before the traumatic event occurred.

 

Symptoms of PTSD

 

Symptoms of PTSD most often begin to surface within three months of the event, but in some cases they do not begin until years later. The severity and duration of the illness will vary from patient to patient. Some recover from the trauma within six months, while others suffer much longer. Symptoms of PTSD are often grouped into four main categories including:

 

  • Reliving. Through memories of the trauma, flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares, the trauma is repeatedly relived. Greater anxiety may be felt when reminded of the trauma, such as the anniversary date or a news report.

  • Avoiding. People, places, thoughts and situations may be avoided. This type of dissociation can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a lack of interest in things and activities that were once enjoyed.

  • Negative changes in thinking and mood. Difficulty in maintaining relationships or having any positive sense of worth. A feeling of hopelessness and emotional numbness is also common.

  • Increased arousal. The person suffering from PTSD may experience physical and emotional symptoms including problems relating to others, difficulty feeling or showing affection, trouble falling or staying asleep, irritability, outbursts of anger, problems concentrating and being easily startled. Physical symptoms may also occur including increased blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tension, nausea and diarrhea.

 

Emotional numbing is characteristic of PTSD patients. Lack of interest in activities that once used to bring enjoyment may be one of the initial noticeable symptoms. The following symptoms are also common in PTSD patients:

 

  • Emotional deadness

  • Distancing from people

  • A sense of foreshortened future (not able to make future plans or believing one will survive much longer)

  • Upsetting dreams related to the event

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Easily frightened

 

In order for the PTSD diagnosis to be assigned, at least one reliving symptom, one avoidance symptom, two negative changes in mood, and two hyperarousal symptoms must be present for at least a month and must create significant distress or impairment in functioning. When C-PTSD is present the following symptoms may be present:

 

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Explosive anger

  • Passive aggressive behavior

  • Tendency to forget the trauma

  • Dissociation from one’s life or body (depersonalization)

  • Persistent feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt or being different

  • Feelings that perpetrator is all powerful

  • Preoccupation with revenge against or allegiance with the perpetrator

  • Severe change in the things that once used to bring meaning to life, like loss of spiritual connection

  • Ongoing sense of helplessness, hopelessness or despair

 

It is difficult to get an exact number of all service members and veterans who have had or suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). We have attempted to use veteran research and statistics from a number of reputable sources. We have researched data and categorized this information into pre-era conflicts, current conflicts from the Gulf wars, to current Iraq and Afghanistan. The following information has been represented in this manner.

 

According to the RAND (randorg, 2015) Study Center for Military Health Policy Research. Since October 2001 1.64 million U.S troops have been deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The pace in which deployments in these current conflicts occur is unprecedented. Couple this with a higher proportion of deployments that are longer, more frequent, with shorter breaks between deployments, and add periods of intense combat you have higher incidents of PTSD and TBI. It is estimated that 20% or greater suffer from some form of PTSD. That would but the number of PTSD cases from this era about 328,000.

 

Forces today are much smaller than they were in the Vietnam and Korean conflicts, so statistically casualties are lower in these conflicts. Take in account advancements in combat technology, body armor, and the advancement of medical technology, combat and service veterans are surviving incidents that would have previous killed their predecessors. That has led to a larger incidence of what is being labeled an “invisible wound” aka "PTSD".

 

While there is specific research that that PTSD is a growing epidemic in the US among all groups and walks of life. There is a very large group that is in the U.S. armed services. While our focus is our U.S. Heroes and their families there is significant evidence that this is a very large problem and our organization has opportunities to help a very large population deal with PTSD.

 

According to National Institute of Health (NIH 2009) there are almost 8 million American adults that suffer from PTSD. The following are some of the statistics that have been published:

 

The following are some of the statistics that have been published about PTSD:

 

  • PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults

  • PTSD can occur at any age

  • PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders

  • Members of the military exposed to war/combat and other groups at high risk for trauma exposure are at risk for developing PTSD

  • Among veterans returning from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD and mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often linked and their symptoms may overlap. Blast waves from explosions can cause TBI, rattling the brain inside the skull.

 

PTSD and the Military

 

Today, hundreds of thousands of armed services men, including women, and recent veterans, have seen combat. Many have seen things that are disturbing to a human being. They have either been, hurt, shot, seen their comrades killed, witness death, and destruction.

 

While we have included information and statistics that that are of more recent military operations we intend to later document other statistics for older conflicts to support the great need for our services. According to the congressional research service report dated August 7, 2015 (fasorg, 2015) there are statistics for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS), Operations Inherent Resolve (OIR), Operation New Dawn (OND), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). We have also included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) information that is listed in the following tables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is belief that TBI increases the risk of PTSD, and can benefit from similar treatment modalities. According to an original research article (Frontiersinorg. 2015), blast related injuries are the most prevalent injuries by military personnel who have served in combat, they suffer from TBI and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Through this research it is believed that blast related injuries increase the risk for PTSD and should also be associated as a risk group that can benefit from treatment that Reborn Heroes plans to provide. We have provided the following statistics for TBI.