Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Subject: Mental Health
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 905
Topics: Stress, Disease, Health, Public Health


Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, connotes to the mental health issue which is activated by a terrifying incident; either by going through it or witnessing it. This condition, post-traumatic stress disorder, affects some U.S citizens annually. By statistics, about 3 percent of the population is affected with PTSD (Helzer et al. 2011). It is for one to feel frightened after a disturbing event. Flight activates some impulses in the human body to assist in defending against a dangerous event or to help do away with it. The fight-flight reaction is a typical response that is geared towards safeguarding an individual from harm. 

Almost everybody experiences multiple reactions within the body after a trauma. Nevertheless, many recover from the original symptoms naturally.  Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder include nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts concerning the incident, flashbacks, among others.  Individuals that undergo traumatic situations can develop short-term difficulties in adjusting and dealing with the post-traumatic stress disorder (Krippner et al. 2012). 

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can begin after one month of the incident, yet still, on some occasions, it may start in the later years of the event. The signs at times may be the leading causes of problems in the workplace and thus hamper the normal daily activities. Studies that have been conducted indicate that post-traumatic stress disorder among the military is due to brain injury exacerbated by blasts during combat. 

Researchers are not sure on the specific causes of post-traumatic stress disorder in the victims that are affected (Ford, 2009). The major causes of post-traumatic stress disorder are learning about, experiencing an incident which makes a person to fear. Thus, the causes are developed on a set of intricate factors which include but are not limited to neurological, experiences in life, stress, physical, environmental, and genetics not forgetting personality issues. These factors end up making some individuals develop post-traumatic stress disorder while others do not.

Explanations offered to found the causes of post-traumatic stress disorder concentrate fundamentally on the manner in which the brain gets affected by the traumatic events. Speculations by researchers indicate that once an individual faces an excruciating trauma, the brain fails to process pieces of information and feelings normally (Ford, 2009). The brain works as though the thoughts and the feelings during a traumatic incident act to destroy their bodies, which later on intrude into their consciousness hence causing distress. 

Pre-traumatic psychological factors, for instance, low self- esteem worsen the process. Elements of self-esteem can be strengthened issues such as brutal rape. Post-traumatic responses by other individuals who see a raped woman as unclean and where the woman develops physical discomfort due to the memories of the rape can play a critical role in determining if such symptoms persist or not. There is a hypothesis that it is only after an efficacious reprocessing of the traumatic incident that the post-traumatic stress disorder signs reduce. 

Moreover, modern mechanisms for the study of the brain, its structures, and the chemical components are seminal to researchers in providing salient information on the way the brain and the mind are significant in advance of post-traumatic stress disorder (Ford, 2009). Brain imaging research done over the last decade has emphasized on two structures of the brain: the amygdala so as the hippocampus. The amygdala deals with the way a human brain learns to fear and evidence gathered indicates that the amygdala is hyperactive in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. On the flip side, the hippocampus plays a critical part in the formation of memory. Research shows that in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder there exist a loss of volume in the hippocampus which is responsible some of the memory deficits and other signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

More research has also concentrated on the neurochemicals and determined that they can be active agents in causing post-traumatic stress disorders. For instance, the hormonal system referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) gets disrupted in individuals with PTSD. The system takes part in normal stress responses (Krippner et al. 2012). In cases where the HPA system fails to function, the result is a hippocampal damage which results in post-traumatic stress disorders. Also, the extent of the neurotransmitters; dopamine and serotonin may be lower in individuals with anxiety disorders. Thus, the manner in which a person’s brain controls chemicals, as well as hormones in the body, can lead to the development of PTSD.

Environmental conditions can trigger Post-traumatic stress disorders. Individuals living in high-stress situations like living in very poor areas where violence is part of life may be at risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorders (Helzer et al. 2011). Life experiences, for instance, the amount and cruelty of trauma that an individual has experienced throughout childhood may affect the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. In sum, it is possible to envisage the development of post-traumatic stress disorders premised on the early neurochemical and psychological dynamics in individuals that have been exposed to a traumatic incident. Further studies offer a new hope of getting into new treatments for the post-traumatic stress disorders into the future. 

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  1. Ford, J. D. (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder: Scientific and professional dimensions. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press
  2. Helzer, J. E., Robins, L. N., & McEvoy, L. (2011). Post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population. New England Journal of Medicine317(26), 1630-1634.
  3. Krippner, S., Pitchford, D. B., & Davies, J. (2012). Post-traumatic stress disorder. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood.
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