Post-traumatic stress disorder, (PSTD), affects millions of Americans. The roots of this disease stem from traumatic experiences. After being involved in a life threatening experience, some people develop systems of PTSD a month or so following the incident. I have a neighbor who suffers horribly from this disease and understand the implications of not receiving the proper intervention for it. More social psychology intervention needs to be brought into this field to assess and help the patient.
My neighbor is a 60-year old Vietnam War veteran, and it behooves me to see how he still suffers from PTSD to this day. His past veteran history has been compounded with a recent divorce that has become devastating and overwhelming. He frequents the veteran’s psychiatric unit where he was clinically evaluated and prescribed medications. He has sessions with a psychiatrist and social worker more than two times a week. From my observations, these evaluations that have been ongoing for years are mere trial and error sessions. His medications include antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs in an effort to keep him sedated and calm. Suicide has been attempted multiple times, and he always fear that his neighbors are plotting to kill him.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has done research on PTSD and related studies on fear and anxiety to aid people in coping with trauma. Studies have been conducted on the brain, its functions, and chemicals released as a result of fear and trauma. Early intervention focusing on disturbances in the memory, such as, bias, memory formation, and saliency can help in slowing down the development and maintenance of PTSD.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used to help individuals think and reach to frightening experiences that can trigger PTSD and help them cope. Also, by using these measures of therapy, the NIMH researchers have been able to study the brain response to certain medications while responding to CBT. Sometimes an individual’s core cognitive schema is inconsistent with the patient’s traumatic event. He has difficulty integrating his past experiences into his existing schema. This disintegration eventually manifests and can lead to behaviors and symptoms of PTSD. There are structured forms of psychotherapy including, exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, and stress inoculation training. Some forms of research attempt to enhance personality, cognitive and social protective factors and minimize risk factors in an effort to prevent full-blown PTSD after trauma. The identification of certain factors and their response to an individual regarding PTSD is still being researched (Brewin, 2005).
Another form of clinical research by the NIMH is to create approaches via the Internet and telephone to promote self-help therapy and telephone-assisted therapy. There are also research programs where a person with PTSD can meet their therapist face to face on websites. A therapy session can be conducted this way. This can help lower the stress and aid the patient in dealing with his fears and problems. Intervention programs are being studied in order to respond to risk factors of PTSD before they become full-blown. The aim is to develop more effective and personalized treatments for the patient. Other psychological interventions that have been studied and utilized include coping skills therapy, eye movement desensitization, reprocessing, and debriefing interventions. These interventions have not been fully successful and effective. Interventions need to be expanded and more programs involving exposure and interactions should be promoted.
Anyone can develop PTSD. It is not exclusively a disease for war veterans. It can be brought on by an unexpected death, a traumatic loss or even extreme fear. Most children and teens suffer from this disease if something traumatic has occurred in their lives. Children who are exposed to domestic violence can also suffer. Clinical studies for this type of treatment presently involve trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) as opposed to child-centered therapy (CCT).
My focus regarding PTSD is mainly geared toward the veterans of war. I feel that their disease is not as controlled as it should be. We as a society should not let our thinking fall into a group bias situation, but instead attempt to recognize these individuals and help to promote the funding and therapy that they are deserving of. A recent occurrence can prove my point. Omar Gonzalez, a war veteran, broke security and attempted to enter the White House. Authorities later found 800 rounds of ammunition, hatchets, and machetes in his car. It was determined that he too suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and his family has stated that Gonzalez not only has lost his home and material belongings in his life, but has lost his mind due to serving his country (Fernandez, et al. 2014).
I feel that with all the monies that are spent by our country for research in the medical field, this disease should be given more priority for prevention and keeping it controlled. The clinical studies and health issues that are involved in PTSD are vast and still in progress. Research is constantly being improved to help these victims and survivors, but not enough. I feel that this disease should be intercepted before it reaches its full impact on an individual. Hopefully, the proper interventions and research will cure this problem and assist the sufferers of these dreaded disease. An attack on the roots of the disease for each individual should be assessed and conquered so that our veterans can live their daily lives to the fullest.
Brewin, CR. (2005). Risk factor effect sizes in PTSD: what this means for intervention. J. Trauma dissociation. 6,123-130.
Montgomery, D., Fernandez, M., (2014). Omar J. Gonzalez, Accused of White House Intrusion, Is Recalled as Good but Troubled Neighbor. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/us/omar-gonzalez-veteran-white-house-fence.html.