Investigations into the physiological and psychological effects of extreme stress have been a focus in psychological research for more than a hundred years (1) Psychological research into extreme stress reactions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been of primary importance and is of increasing significance in our modern times (2).
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder precipitated by a traumatic event characterized by symptoms of persistently re-experiencing memories, thoughts and dreams of the trauma, avoidance of stimulus related to the event, hyper arousal, fright and startled responses among others (3).
In studies of this debilitating condition, research has shown that PTSD may be more prevalent among women and girls and among men and boys (4) and that men and women can exhibit different symptomatic patterns and post-traumatic response (5). Research has also shown that it has been estimated to affect between 15 to 24 percent of individuals who are exposed to potentially traumatic events (6).
What events can cause post-traumatic stress?
Referred to as potentially traumatic events (PTE), these experiences may include accidents, natural disasters, military combat, war, motor vehicle accidents, violent crime, rape, sexual assault and/or any other unusually violent events that individuals may experience (7).
Potentially traumatic events can be experiences in a person’s life that are defined by its emotional intensity and by the individuals difficulty to respond quickly to the event because of the shock and fright of the experience itself (8). A flooding of excitation in the body and mind that these events create is excessive and the capacity to overcome the flood of emotions is diminished by the upheaval and long lasting effects that it brings about in the psychical organisation of the individual (9).
The Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The appearance of the symptoms of PTSD follows upon an emotional shock associated with a situation where the individual has felt their life to be in danger. The experience of helplessness and fright in the face of a potentially traumatic event and the incapacity to respond to the event can have incapacitating and long lasting effects.
The devastating effects of a potentially traumatic event and the symptoms of PTSD can cause an individual to suffer in all aspects of their lives. This includes not only the more obvious symptoms of PTSD but also the way in which these symptoms can create many difficulties in their personal and professional relationships.
It is important to remember that although the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder can be diagnosable and seen as a particular psychological disorder, the singular experience and meanings of the event to the person inflicted cannot be discounted and provide the framework for the way the individual can make sense and work through the effects of PTSD through counselling and psychotherapy.
PTSD Counselling Melbourne – Counselling & Psychotherapy for PTSD
Counselling & Psychotherapy have been shown to provide tremendous relief from the suffering of people who have developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you are currently suffering from PTSD or someone you know is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress, professional therapeutic counselling and psychotherapy is available.
1 & 6. Gavranidou, M & Rosner, R (2003) Theoretical Review: The Weaker Sex? Gender and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Depression and Anxiety Vol 17
2. Kelly, F (2005) The origins of post-traumatic stress disorder. Part 1. The origins of a modern plague. Irish Psychiarist: The official journal of the Irish Psychiartic Association. Vol 6, Issue 2, April/May 2005
3, 4 & 5. Tolin, F,D & Foa, B,E (2006) Sex Differences in Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Quantitative Review of 25 Years of Research
7. Simmons, A.C & Granvold, K, D (2005) A Cognitive Model to Explain Gender Differences in Rates of PTSD diagnosis
8 & 9. Laplanche, J & J.B Pontalis (1973) The Language of Psychoanalysis