Post-traumatic stress disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological condition that surfaces after — sometimes, long after — particularly high-stress life experiences, usually involving death and suffering. The most well-known instances of PTSD are war veterans who experienced combat; and victims of rape. [1] Though less known, children in foster care are more likely than combat veterans to develop PTSD. [2]

PTSD sometimes becomes apparent after lying dormant in the subconscious until something triggers recollection of the memory, or other minor stresses build up upon the previous high-stress experience.

Some... people, including notable liberal George Carlin, posit that PTSD is a "politically correct" euphemism for what was previously called shell shock.[3] In reality, the term "post-traumatic stress disorder" came around for the sole purpose of efficiency — streamlining the DSM. Calling shell shock PTSD is about as politically correct as calling your poodle a dog.

Symptoms and effects[edit]

The following symptoms of PTSD are similar to those of a typical nervous breakdown and can be treated through therapy:

  • Insomnia, nightmares, night terrors
  • Intrusive thoughts; flashbacks
  • Dissociation
  • Feeling you have a short life
  • Emotional numbness
  • Detachment
  • Avoiding places, dates, times, people and other reminders of the trauma
  • Anger
  • Hypervigilance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Believing the world is a dangerous place
  • Guilt and self-blame
  • Loss of appetite[4]
  • Depression
  • Physical illness or disability
  • Inability to cope with mundane tasks
  • Loss of drive, both sexual and mental

In denial[edit]

There are some people who are actually in denial over the scientific evidence for PTSD; some of these folks include veterans,[5] those in the medical community,[5] and some in the U.S. military who view it as simply a mental weakness.[5] Much of the denial is thought to be in reaction to the stigma attached to mood or anxiety disorders[5] — with so many people in the U.S. getting diagnosed with one thing or another, people are possibly trying not to associate themselves or veterans with a condition that more often than not carries a stigma.

It is, however, widely recognized that PTSD is likely an over-diagnosed condition[5] and that, while there is overwhelming evidence supporting its existence, many diagnoses are likely due to doctors overusing it as an umbrella diagnosis for a range of symptoms.


With the advent of the internet, this disorder is coming to be more and more self-diagnosed, often for mundane things. On Tumblr, it seems to have gone into overdrive where complaints of "Trigger Warnings" cause flak from every direction. This can sometimes cause real sufferers of (not yet diagnosed) PTSD to be lumped together with these people, which may stop them from ever getting the help they deserve. It is already tremendously difficult for people with PTSD to receive help, considering it is part of their condition to want to avoid talking about the trauma and blame themselves for what occurred.

However, self-diagnosis can be fair and acceptable if someone has genuinely experienced a traumatic event, and by that it has to be an event that was either life-threatening, threatening to body autonomy or threatening to the integrity of the self.


  1. Olszewski TM, Varrasse JF (2005). "The neurobiology of PTSD: implications for nurses". Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 43 (6): 40–7.
  2. Dubner AE, Motta RW; Motta, RW (June 1999). "Sexually and physically abused foster care children and posttraumatic stress disorder". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67 (3): 367–73.
  3. And before that, cowardice.
  4. Surprisingly, no enterprising soul has yet suggested using PTSD as a weight loss tool.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 NBC News: PTSD may be overdiagnosed, but PTSD deniers are 'wrong,' psychologists say 26 November 2012