PTSD and Abuse Capstone Project

Excerpt from Capstone Project :

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Abuse

This paper will highlight post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its related causes such as abuse. The main idea here is to overview some of the causes of this disorder and to relate it with physiological and sociological aspects, some other important facts related to the topic will also be mentioned in order to give the reader a better idea about those individuals who are diagnosed with the post traumatic stress.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is commonly observed that there exists a strong relationship between abusive behavior, PTSD and any experience of traumatic incident. The fact is that intimate partner abuse occurs more than expected by any common individual. According to the national estimates in the United States, around the time frame of one year some eight to twenty percent of individuals who are in a serious relationship would go on to get involved in any sort of violent or abusive behavior which is directly aimed towards their partner. Relationship violence is usually commonly found among those individuals who have in their past experienced any sort of traumatic event.

Symptoms and facts related to PTSD

Individuals with PTSD repeatedly experience flashbacks, nightmares, bad memories or frightening thoughts, this occurs mostly when they tend to expose themselves to objects or events that are related to trauma, anniversaries of any bad experience could also trigger these symptoms. PTSD patients may also experience sleep disturbances and emotional numbness, anxiety, depression, outbursts of anger and irritability, also common is the feeling of intense guilt. Most individuals having PTST tend to avoid any type of reminders associated with bad memory. It is important to note here that the post traumatic stress is diagnosed in any individual when the mentioned symptoms are lasted for more than one month.

It is a sad fact that PTSD is becoming more common among the general public, about three and a half percent of U.S. adult population aged between eighteen and fifty five has post traumatic stress, this means some five million individuals. Some one third of individuals who go through war experience either men or women are known to have diagnosed with post traumatic stress. It is also diagnosed greatly in war veterans who have long withdrawn from their line of duty.

How PTSD is related to abuse

"Differing from post traumatic stress disorder, a strong bondage has been linked between the overall experiences of relationship abuse and traumatic events" (Rosenthal, 2003). In particular, there have been many studies and researches that found out that women and men who have experienced any sort of sexual abuse, physical abuse or emotional neglect during their childhood are much more likely to have an abusive behavior in their intimate relationships as related to those people who did not have any history of trauma during childhood.

In addition to this, those individuals with post traumatic stress are also found to be much more likely to get aggressive and to easily shift towards intimate partner abuse as compared to those people who are not diagnosed with post traumatic stress, the trigger that causes this shift could be a small reason or a habit of having an abusive behavior. "It is important to mention that a connection between abuse and PTSD had been established for both women and men having PTSD." (Vasterling, 2005).

"There have been many studies in this field whose aim is to better understand why individuals who have PTSD or any history of trauma are led towards aggressive and violent behaviors so easily" (Hudgins, 2002). In a study involving United States war veterans, it was found that depression was playing a vital role in the overall aggressive behavior among those veterans diagnosed with PTSD. "Individuals with both PTSD and depression might experience more mood shifts toward anger and this is the reason why they also might have much greater difficulties in controlling their abusive behavior towards others, even those whom they love the most." (Douglas, 2006).

With respect to this, some studies have also suggested that aggressive and violent behavior, especially in men might be used as a reason to manage any unpleasant feelings that might occur on a regular interval. Aggression in behavior is seen as a common way of releasing tension that is associated with different other unpleasant emotions which roots from any previous traumatic event like those involving guilt, anxiety or shame.

Although those suffering from PTSD may seem to believe that hostile and aggressive behavior may reduce their tension levels temporarily but they are wrong because this approach is deemed ineffective when assessed in the longer-run of events, this is regarding both to the relationships as well as dealing with the usual unpleasant emotions. Despite all of these findings, it is extremely important for anyone to notify that just because any individual has experienced some sort of trauma in its past or currently has post traumatic stress does not mean at all that they would have to exhibit violent behavior of any type, whether it is physical or verbal offense to others.

There have been many theoretical evidences that points toward the contribution in aggressive behavior therefore it is a consensus in the scientific community that far more research and analysis is still required to accurately identify the risk factors causing the specific aggressive behavior among those individuals who have post traumatic stress or experienced traumatic events, many of these researches involve voluntary patient contribution in different behavioral research programs while others involve the testing of different stress relieving drugs but the aim of all of these studies is the same and that is to identify the source of the problem and root it out.

Here it is important to mention that the main problem is often deemed to arise from the memory of an individual and there have been some theories that if the main memory of the past trauma is somehow suppressed or removed from the patient then it is much easy for them to control their behavior, however memory suppressing techniques are often criticized by the general scientific community and therefore is considered to be an overall unreliable way of solving the problem, it is therefore often advised by the doctors to face the facts and move on.

Things that can be done

Health professionals associated with mental issues have recognized long ago that post traumatic stress and trauma generally increases the risk for aggressive behavior. This is why different treatments for post traumatic stress also incorporate skills of anger management. Learning better and effective ways to cope up with stress is a huge part of the factor regarding the reduction of aggressive tendencies, this includes breathing techniques as well as identifying the long-term and short-term positive and negative consequences of various behaviors.

Impact on physiology

The symptoms of PTSD do not follow the regular pathways of resistance phase present in the general adaptation syndrome. It has come to knowledge that there are differences at pathways, glucocorticoid and hormone levels and the atrophy of hippocampus is usually common. Pathological development of PTSD occurs only if the response which leads towards the resolution of trauma is somehow disrupted. According to the main conclusion of many biological researches, the exposure towards one or many events of trauma in earlier life goes on to trigger a chain of biological and mental events that ultimately leads towards prolonged PTSD.

Different other effects

Individuals are affected by post traumatic stress in many different ways. The hypothalamus, neocortex and the limbic system of any individual controls many different functions in the entire body such as reproductive cycle, eating, rest or sleeping and doing exercise. They also assess and monitor what is gratifying, dangerous or new. The limbic system guides and maintains the emotions as well as other behaviors that are necessary for survival and self-preservation. Signals are continuously sent to the thalamus from all of the sensory organs in the body. They are properly distributed to the basal ganglia, cortex and the limbic system.

Individuals with post traumatic stress find it extremely difficult to integrate properly their memories of trauma. Memory is severely affected when the endogenous stress hormones in the body are released during the moments of extreme stress. Amnesia seen in post traumatic stress is much likely to be due to excessive vasopression release or norepinephrine during the event of a trauma. Memories of trauma could also get triggered because of the physiological arousal.

All of this tends to relive the past alongside misinterpreting innocuous stimuli as possible threats. It is also been observed that individuals with post traumatic stress are more sensitive to sounds as compared to any other common individual. Neutralizing stimuli is present in the overall process in order to attend any relevant task that is extremely difficult for post traumatic stress patients. Therefore they usually tend to shut down so they can compensate. All of this result in decreased involvement in everyday ordinary life and could result in serious isolation of individuals from the outside world. People in such…

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