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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The essential feature of post-traumatic stress disorder is the development of disabling psychological symptoms following a traumatic event. It was first identified during World War I, when soldiers were observed to suffer chronic anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks for weeks, months, or even years following combat. This condition came to be known as shell shock.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur in anyone in the wake or a severe trauma outside the normal range of human experience. These are traumas that would produce intense fear, terror, and feelings of helplessness in anyone and include natural disasters such as earthquakes or tornadoes, car or plane crashes, rape, assault, or other violent crimes against yourself or your immediate family. It appears that the symptoms are more intense and longer lasting when the trauma is personal, as in rape or other violent crimes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur at any age and affects 3 to 4 percent of the population. Children with the disorder tend not to relive the trauma consciously but continually reenact it in their play or in distressing dreams.
Among the variety of symptoms that can occur with post-traumatic stress disorder, the following nine are particularly common:
Repetitive, distressing thoughts about the event
Nightmares related to the event
Flashbacks so intense that you feel or act as though the trauma were occurring all over again
An attempt to avoid thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma
An attempt to avoid activities or external situations associated with the trauma-such as a phobia about driving developing after you have been in an auto accident
Emotional numbness - being out of touch with your feelings
Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
Losing interest in activities that used to give you pleasure
Persistent symptoms of increased anxiety, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, difficulty concentrating, starting easily, or irritability and outburst of anger
Hypnotherapy is helpful in enabling PTSD victims to retrieve and work through memories of the original traumatic incident. Hypnosis may be used to accelerate the course of therapy and/or overcome resistance to exposure. Although there are many different types of hypnotic procedures, age regression is the technique most commonly used in retrieving subconscious memories and feelings associated with past traumatic incidents.