Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, PTSS)

post-traumatic stress disorder

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental disorder that follows an occurrence of extreme psychological stress, such as that encountered in war or resulting from violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or serious accident. The stressful event is usually followed by a period of emotional numbness and denial that can last for months or years. After that period, symptoms such as recurring nightmares, "flashbacks," short-term memory problems, insomnia, or heightened sensitivity to sudden noises may begin. In some cases outbursts of violent behavior have been observed. The usual treatment for PTSD is individual psychotherapy, including anxiety management, or group psychotherapy with others who have the disorder. Some antianxiety and antidepressant drugs are being studied for their effectiveness.

Certain traits (a history of depression, shyness, impulsivity) appear to heighten a person's risk of experiencing PTSD after a traumatic event. In those who do experience it, there is growing evidence that actual physical changes occur in the brain. The hippocampus, a structure that lies deep in the brain and that is associated with memory, has been found to be smaller in PTSD victims. It has been hypothesized that excesses of cortisol, a steroid hormone released during periods of extreme stress, may damage nerve fibers in the area or actually kill the nerve cells. However, the role of cortisol is not completely understood; studies of concentration camp survivors found abnormally low levels of cortisol rather than abnormally high levels.

Post-traumatic stress disorder was referred to as "shell shock" after World War I and as "battle fatigue" after World War II and was traditionally thought of as a condition of war veterans. Medical and military experts in the United States were slow to recognize the nature of PTSD. Largely due to the efforts of a group of Vietnam War veterans, it was finally acknowledged as an official disorder in 1980. Studies of Vietnam veterans and Nazi concentration camp survivors have added greatly to the knowledge of PTSD. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (1988) estimated that 31% of the males and 27% of the females who served in the Vietnam War had symptoms of PTSD. Estimates of civilian populations put the rate of PTSD at 10% (women) and 5% (men) in the 15 to 54 age group. Childhood sexual abuse, sexual abuse, and assault are common causes of PTSD in both military and nonmilitary women. In 1989 the U.S. Congress created the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the study and treatment of PTSD.

G. Schiraldi, The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook (2000, repr. 2009); J. Morris, The Evil Hours (2015).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, PTSS): Selected full-text books and articles

Neuropsychology of PTSD: Biological, Cognitive, and Clinical Perspectives By Jennifer J. Vasterling; Chris R. Brewin Guilford Press, 2005
Clinician's Guide to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder By Gerald M. Rosen; B. Christopher Frueh Wiley, 2010
Treating Psychological Trauma and PTSD By John P. Wilson; Matthew J. Friedman; Jacob D. Lindy Guilford Press, 2001
Treatment for PTSD: Clinical Practice Guidelines and Steps toward Further Knowledge By Zeiss, Antonette M.; Batten, Sonja V Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, Vol. 49, No. 5, May 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Review of Exposure Therapy: A Gold Standard for PTSD Treatment By Rauch, Sheila A. M.; Eftekhari, Afsoon; Ruzek, Josef I Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, Vol. 49, No. 5, May 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Review of Group Treatment for PTSD By Sloan, Denise M.; Bovin, Michelle J.; Schnurr, Paula P Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, Vol. 49, No. 5, May 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Empathy in the Treatment of Trauma and PTSD By John P. Wilson; Rhiannon Brwynn Thomas Brunner-Routledge, 2004
Can Medications Prevent PTSD in Trauma Victims? Extinguishing the Process That Trauma Sets in Motion May Avoid Chronic Anxiety By Bennett, W. R. Murray; Zatzick, Douglas; Roy-Byrne, Peter Current Psychiatry, Vol. 6, No. 9, September 2007
Military-Related PTSD: A Focus on the Symptomatology and Treatment Approaches By Garske, Gregory G The Journal of Rehabilitation, Vol. 77, No. 4, October-December 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Efficacy of Various Treatments for PTSD in Battered Women: Case Studies By Stapleton, Jennifer A.; Taylor, Steven; Asmundson, Gordon J. G Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Vol. 21, No. 1, April 1, 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Childhood Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis, Treatment, and School Reintegration By Cook-Cottone, Catherine School Psychology Review, Vol. 33, No. 1, Winter 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Psychological Interventions in Times of Crisis By Laura Barbanel; Robert J. Sternberg Springer, 2006
Phobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinician's Guide to Effective Psychosocial and Pharmacological Interventions By Thomas H. Ollendick; John S. March Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Posttraumatic Stress Dissorder"
Psychological Assessment in Clinical Practice: A Pragmatic Guide By Michel Hersen Brunner-Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Acute and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders"
Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis in Social Work Practice By Jacqueline Corcoran; Joseph Walsh Oxford University Press, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder"
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