What is PTSD?
The History of PTSD. While PTSD has only been formally recognized since 1980, evidence of it exists as far back as the 6th century in ancient Egypt where hieroglyphics contain symbols of an emotional response to a traumatic event. In more recent society, PTSD has been known by various names, including its American Civil War nickname, when combat veterans were referred to as suffering from “soldier’s heart.” In World War I, symptoms that were generally consistent with PTSD were referred to as “combat fatigue.” Soldiers who developed such symptoms in World War II were said to be suffering from “gross stress reaction,” and many who fought in Vietnam were labeled as having “post-Vietnam syndrome.” PTSD has also been called “battle fatigue” and “shell shock”.
PTSD Definition as per the DSM-IV. “The essential feature of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate…. The person’s response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror (or in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behavior).”
A little more user friendly, compliments of Medicine.net. “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience. PTSD sufferers re-experience the traumatic event or events in some way, tend to avoid places, people, or other things that remind them of the event (avoidance), and are exquisitely sensitive to normal life experiences (hyperarousal).”
Complex PTSD (or, Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified, DESNOS). First referred to by Judith Herman in her book, Trauma and Recovery, Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted, prolonged or repeated exposure to traumatic events and circumstances. C-PTSD is characterized by regular PTSD symptoms, plus long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning. For a detailed description of C-PTSD you can go here.
Combat PTSD. Combat PTSD denotes posttraumatic stress symptoms resulting from experience in a theater of war.
(Photos: Donna Corless, anomalousNYC)