Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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What is PTSD

It’s not unusual for people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events to have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories. While some traumatized people will recover naturally, others may continue to have problems long after the event and develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a serious mental condition, and people with the disorder may continue to be severely anxious and depressed for several months, possibly years, following the event. Physiologically, PTSD can change the brain’s structure and how it functions, leaving its victims vulnerable to perceiving and responding to stress differently than healthy individuals.

Anyone can develop PTSD, including warfighters, children and victims of a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters or other serious events. According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 8 out of every 100 people will experience the disorder at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men and genes may also play a part in making some people more susceptible to develop the disorder than others.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of PTSD may not develop immediately after the traumatic event. In many cases, they may not appear until several months, possibly even years later. Having the following PTSD symptoms is not a sign of weakness, but points to an organic problem in the brain following a significant trauma:

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Anger problems or irritability

  • Headaches

  • Nightmares

  • Flashbacks

  • Panic attacks

  • Staying away from places and things that trigger memories of the event

  • Emotional disturbances

  • Increased anxiety

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Impacted Areas of the Brain

The brain region of interest related to PTSD include the posterior cingulate. Medical literature for the use of SPECT imaging supports increased blood flow in the posterior cingulate when the patient is given a concentration task.

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