People In First World Countries Are More Vulnerable To PTSD

Resulting from exposure to a traumatic or life-threatening event, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. Current data suggests that 8% of the U.S. population are prone to PTSD. While the main reasons for PTSD include combat or assault experiences, a wide range of events can trigger PTSD symptoms. For example, road accidents, terrorist attacks, kidnappings, natural disasters, or any other traumatic event where a person experiences or witnesses a dreadful situation.

Say, three people are riding a car. The car gets rammed by a truck, and all three people sustain injuries. Now, the driver or the other two passengers can get prone to PTSD. Yet, one person suffering from PTSD does not mean that the disorder will develop in the other two individuals as well. How a person responds to an event depends on several factors that have nothing to do with the traumatic event.

Common PTSD Symptoms –

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), has described the following changes as primary symptoms for PTSD in adults and children of above age 6 – 

Exposure to a life-threatening event

Exposure to a traumatic event, injury, physical or mental abuse in one or more ways, including:

  • Direct exposure to the event
  • Witnessing the event taking place
  • Witnessing a close family member or friend going through the trauma
  • Re-experiencing the same event or another traumatic event soon after the first event

 

Intrusion or re-experiencing

  • Recurring reminders of the event
  • Nightmares, vivid images, prolonged anxiety, and physical responses to prompts that match the dreadful event

 

Avoidance

  • Feeling scared and avoiding the outside world
  • Staying away from people, places, thoughts, feelings, or actions that can remind the traumatic event

 

Alterations in Mood and Cognition

  • Negative changes in thoughts or emotions
  • Blaming oneself for the traumatic event, isolation, loss of interest, prolonged negative emotions, no affection

 

Arousal and hyper-reactivity

  • Irritation, freaking out quite often
  • Supervigilant, scared, aggressive response to others, recklessness, lack of sleep, loss of concentration

 

Let’s consider the example mentioned above once again. The person who was driving the car couldn’t overcome the trauma of the accident. Over the following week, that person avoids driving on the highway and, subsequently, leaves driving altogether – as a driver or a passenger. The person may get anxious or angry while watching high-speed cars in movies or real and avoid talks about driving. Despite the troubled feeling, the person may not want to discuss his fear. Since the sufferer is unwilling to talk about the traumatic event or the fear, the memory of the accident may still haunt him with a few parts of the event constantly playing in his mind.

Children with PTSD do not respond in the same way as adults. Initially, the child may have dreams of the traumatic event. Further, these dreams may transform into more generalized nightmares about ghosts or other dangerous situations where the child or any other person is at risk. Children find it difficult to express their feelings verbally. In such cases, parents or teachers must recognize the behavioral changes in the child, like decreased interest in studies, inactivity, or a sense of the damaged future (i.e., the child may think that their days are numbered). Children with PTSD also tend to recreate the event through drawing, acting, or play. Some other symptoms include headaches and stomachaches.

PTSD symptoms in adults include feeling disgust, aggressive response to others, or self-criticizing behavior. These symptoms can significantly affect a person’s life, and they are also related to specific social patterns. The turn of events may include sexual dysfunction, job loss, or marital conflicts. PTSD causes a deep sense of guilt and despair in a person that further results in social withdrawal and substance abuse.

Some cases of PTSD may also involve hearing hallucinations and neurotic ideation. People going through hearing hallucinations may experience tinnitus, a persistent ringing in one’s ears, or they may hear voices that don’t exist. People experiencing neurotic ideation stay vigilant and skeptical about being harmed or harassed by other people. If the trauma has resulted because of violent death, symptoms may include complicated grief and PTSD at the same time.

PTSD is an unpredictable disorder and can develop at any age. Its severity and timing differ with each case. While PTSD symptoms are seen in a person within the first four months after the trauma, these symptoms may delay for months or even a year before a person is diagnosed with PTSD.

In most cases, PTSD develops soon after the trauma. However, sometimes, symptoms may not be visible even after 10-12 months of the trauma. Moreover, a traumatic event may lead to mild PTSD symptoms in one individual, while severe symptoms may be seen in other people. Duration of symptoms also varies from case to case, with some people healing naturally in the first three months, while in others, symptoms persist for years.

People with PTSD experience a series of symptoms after the traumatic event. These symptoms are dealt with avoidance behavior, and treatment is required for complete recovery. Specific variables resulting due to the traumatic event may impact the development of PTSD. Incidents that may increase the possibility of PTSD include:

  • Recognized life threat
  • Accident or personal injury
  • Mental or physical abuse
  • Oppressed childhood, including genetics, trauma, no emotional support, various causes of stress

 

PTSD as a result of physical abuse – 

PTSD symptoms are also detected a long time after the traumatic event. A recent testimonial from a PTSD patient: “My uncle abused me when I was a kid. At first, I was scared but eventually accepted it. Everything stopped when I was 12, and I never met him since then. I told myself that I need to forget this and erase all related memories. I even had a healthy relationship in college. I dated a few boys and also been part of two serious relationships. However, last year my best friend was abused by a co-worker. After a few months and putting a lot of effort, she recovered from the trauma. However, I could not stop thinking about my uncle since then.”

Epidemiological information

The symptoms and longevity of PTSD differ in both gender and ethnicity. Approximately 8.7% of the U.S. adult population are diagnosed with PTSD, with women more vulnerable than men. The risk of PTSD is high among U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians as compared to non-Latino European Americans within the U.S. Studies suggest that Asian-Americans have a significantly low rate of PTSD in the country. These differences depend upon a number of cultural and socioeconomic aspects.

Approx 0.5% to 1% population in Europe and most Asian, Latin American, and African countries suffer from PTSD, which is significantly low as compared to the United States. This proves the fact that developed nations have significantly lower rates of PTSD as compared to first world countries. 

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