Researching Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Researching Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


The search strategy for the given investigation implies the literature review of the scholarly sources related to the given topic. While looking for the specific type of information the following information descriptors have been identified: posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, the traumatic event, anxiety disorders, and symptoms of depression.

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In the contemporary literature, there exist many definitions of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The most common definition of this term states that it is “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed life-threatening events such as natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist incidents, war, or violent personal assaults like rape” (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,2011, p.1)

Despite the differences in definitions, all researches emphasize the role of a traumatic event experienced by a person that causes the further progression of the disease. At the same time, PTSD is classified as the subcategory of stress-related and anxiety disorders. For instance, “the American Psychiatric Association classifies PTSD in a category with other trauma- and stress-related disorders that are closely related to anxiety disorders” (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, n.d., p.3) Researching Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The common notion of stress usually implies a condition of tense anxiety, the feeling of fatigue or oppression. At the same time, stress is not a diseased state, but the medium with the help of which an organism deals with undesirable effects. It is the natural reaction of the human body to an adverse impact. Sometimes stress may be useful as it “forces our regulating physiological and neurophysiologic systems to move outside of their r normal dynamic activity” (Perry, 2007, p.2). At the same time, excessive stress may cause psychological and physical ailments.

The analysis of the clinical experience dealing with psychological disorders after stress permits to the establishment of several common and recurrent symptoms with peculiar features that are typical for PTSD. It is possible to distinguish three main clusters of PTSD symptoms. Jonas et al. (2013) identify the clusters dealing with “re-experiencing, avoidance or numbing, and hyperarousal” (p.3). Examples of the traumatic event that causes PTSD may include a war experience, violent crimes, assaults, car accidents, shipwrecks, train accidents, aircraft crashes, natural disasters, violent deaths of relatives, childish psychological traumas and many others.

Many people who suffer from PTSD re-experience the traumatic event in form of nightmares, intrusive memories and images. There are frequent cases of sleep deficit, depression, and abusive drinking behavior. Such people became isolated and seem to be emotionally cold-hearted. Such behavior is connected with their irrational fear of strong affection. Having witnessed the death of their close relatives or friends, they do not want to have close relationships with other people because of the potential threat of losing them. Those things, which have been interesting for such people, recede into the background. People who suffer from PTSD become aggressive and sometimes are violently inclined. Many of them, especially those who have experienced military operations, have survivor’s guilt.


As a rule, after the traumatic event, the symptom expression takes place within the first several weeks. However, many people exposed to psychological trauma have no appropriate treatment during one year and even more. That is why the earliest identification of PTSD symptoms is of crucial importance. These symptoms, depending on their nature, may be subdivided into four groups. They are cognitive or mental, physical, emotional and behavioral (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, n.d.).

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Among the physical symptoms, it is possible to mention difficulty breathing, pain, weakness, elevated blood pressure. Many patients suffering from PTSD have cognitive symptoms such as nightmares, memory problems, and poor concentration. Emotional symptoms imply anxiety, loss of emotional control, irritability, depression. It is also possible to mention the group of behavioral symptoms that include a change in diet, increased alcohol consumption, increased suspiciousness.

In contemporary medical science, there exists a great number of strategies of treatment for PTSD implying psychological and pharmacological approaches. The most effective psychological interventions include “brief electric therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive therapy (CT), cognitive restructuring(CR), hypnosis, and hypnotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” (Jonas et al., 2013, p.5)Researching Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and is based on the study that “teaches different ways of thinking and reacting to the frightening events that trigger PTSD symptoms and can help bring those symptoms under control” (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Research, n.d., p.3). Moreover, there is the prevailing opinion that psychological ways of treatment are more effective in comparison with pharmacological approaches. Various studies in this field deal with cognitive and mental aspects of PTSD, proposing various strategies of the PTSD symptoms improvement. At the same time, CBT has its own disadvantages. As Ehlers and Clarc (2000) put it “behaviors used to control some of the PTSD symptoms may increase others” (p. 328).

Among numerous pharmacological means for PTSD treatment, it is possible to mention “various types of antidepressants, monoamine oxidase, antipsychotics, alpha-blockers, and benzodiazepines” (Jonas et al., 2013, p.2).

Gaps in the literature

Currently, there are many researchers dealing with the problem of PTSD treatment. Most of them maintain a focus on psychological ways of treatment. At the same time, there is a small number of studies that deal with pharmacological aspects of the treatment for PTSD. Even among existing sources, few of them can be treated as reliable. Moreover, in the studies, which research the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy, little attention is paid to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and trauma. At the same time, the efficacy of these methods is recognized.

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The problem of treatment for PTSD has been researched by many contemporary studies. Nevertheless, the problem is still actual. Currently, there is a definite gap between the clinical practice and the theoretical foundation for it. The trouble is that the cases of the patients from the clinical experience are more complicated in comparison with the participants involved in numerous surveys. It leads to the situation when various methods of treatment, which are recognized to be effective by numerous studies, are rarely used in clinical practice. In such a way, researchers and medical practitioners have to combine their efforts to overcome the existing gap.

Annotated bibliography

Ehlers, A.,& Clarc, D. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behavior Research and Therapy, 38(1). 319-345. Web. 

The authors of the article propose the cognitive model of PTSD pointing out two key processes that cause a sense of threat, such as individual differences in evaluation of trauma and individual differences of the event perception. The authors point out that, unlike other persons, patients with PTSD are characterized by the specific negative appraisal of a traumatic event, and by the strong perceptual priming associated with it. The authors also enlarge on psychological and cognitive processes caused by the traumatic event and various strategies used to control the symptoms of PTSD.

Jonas, D., Cusack, K., Forneris, C., Wilkins, T., Sonis, J., Middleton, J.,… Gaynes B. (2013) Psychological and Pharmacological Treatments for Adults With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Web. 

The given project deals with the problem of pharmacological treatment for adults with PTSD. In their research, the authors investigate the effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatment for PTSD. The data for the given research was obtained from the supervision of 92 patients with this disease aged from 30 to 40. As the result of their research, the investigators point out the effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy, mixed therapies, and narrative exposure therapy. Among various medicinal preparations, the researchers point out the effectiveness of fluoxetine, topiramate, and paroxetine. These pharmaceuticals are used for improving symptoms of depression. At the same time, contrary to the common belief, the investigators have found insufficient the approach that implies that psychological treatments are more effective than pharmacological ones.

Perry, B. (2007). Stress, Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Children. Web.

The author of the article has made an attempt to overview the most frequent causes of PTSD in children, aiming in such a way to provide parents and caregivers with correspondent information. The author distinguishes between six diagnostic criteria for this disease. They are extreme traumatic stress, persistent re-experiencing of a traumatic event, evading from cues connected with the traumatic event, persistent psychological arousal, acute and chronic PTSD. The article also enlarges clinical cases of PTSD, their signs and symptoms, possible consequences of childhood trauma, and ways of their treatment.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder PTSD. (n.d.). ADAA. Web.

The article under analyses deals with the problem of PTSD. Apart from the definition of this term, the article provides examples of the most frequent causes of this disease, its symptoms, and its consequences. The article also enlarges on four types of symptoms of PTSD and their characteristics. In the given article, PTSD is viewed as a constituent of anxiety disorders.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (2011). Web.

The article under analysis gives the definition of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and enlarges on the facts and symptoms connected with this disease. Apart from this, much attention is paid to the difficulties for the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder. As usual, the symptoms of PTSD are rather specific. It is possible to distinguish between three several categories of symptoms. They are an intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal. The given article also enlarges some treatment methods for PTSD, such as cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, discussion groups, and medication. The article provides a short description of each method of treatment.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. (n.d.). Web.

The given scholarly source is a guide for health care providers. The main purpose of the given practice guidelines is to provide health care professionals with the essential information concerning the management of post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions. The guide provides practical recommendations for the diagnosis of PTSD, defining of trauma, and primary and secondary interventions. Depending on the symptom duration, the authors distinguish between acute and chronic PTSD. For each stress reaction, the guide provides several practical recommendations aiming at the identification of symptoms and medical actions to preserve a patients life and to prevent further harm.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Research. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Web.

The article under analyses deals with the problem of PTSD, its definition, possible risk factors, and treatment. In the given article, special attention is given to genes as the significant factor that plays an important role in the generation of fear memories. The article enlarges the brain processes that are responsible for the appearance of fear, anxiety, and stress. The authors state that individual genic differences may lay the foundation for the further progress of the disease without causing any symptoms. For a person with this genetic predisposition, various environmental factors increase the exposure to this disease. The article deals also with psychological and pharmaceutical ways of treatment.


Ehlers, A.,& Clarc, D. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behavior Research and Therapy, 38(1). 319-345. Web.

Jonas, D., Cusack, K., Forneris, C., Wilkins, T., Sonis, J., Middleton, J.,… Gaynes B. (2013) Psychological and Pharmacological Treatments for Adults With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Web.

Perry, B. (2007). Stress, Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Children. Web.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder PTSD. (n.d.). ADAA. Web.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (2011). Web.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. (n.d.). Web.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Research. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Web.

Researching Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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