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How has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) changed over time?

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that occurs after experiencing a life-threatening or deeply distressing event. Most people have heard the phrase PTSD from the likes of war or military combat, but the disorder has various other instances such as sexual abuse, natural disasters, serious accidents, substance abuse and even terrorist attacks which can cause notable harm to a person’s mindset.

The presence of psychological trauma, which is most commonly caused by military combat, goes back as far as warfare itself. The American Civil War (1861 – 65) first brought the symptoms and syndrome of PTSD to light with it becoming gradually prominent in combatants. During this time, research into this field had developed but the acknowledgment of the disorder was mainly ignored due to insufficient understanding of trauma-based ailments. Today, however, there are many treatments available for people suffering from the various types of Post-traumatic stress disorder, ranging from Cognitive Processing Therapy to Prolonged Exposure, two of the best-known types of treatments that help deal with PTSD.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) can help people disassemble their upsetting thoughts and change the way they think, in turn changing their outlook on life. The basis of this treatment is to talk and write about all the negative and unhelpful thoughts the person has on their mind after experiencing a certain trauma and will work together with a psychiatrist to consider ways of managing said thoughts. At first, it may be hard for some to open-up about the incident but doing so will help them cope with emotions like anger, sadness, and guilt. When nearing the end of the therapy, the psychiatrist may focus on certain aspects of a person’s life that have been affected by the trauma, such as a sense of safety, trust, the person ability to control emotions, self-esteem, and intimacy. There are options to this trauma, for example, the participant can choose to list the specifics of the trauma, which may help overcome PTSD faster, but it is not compulsory to do so if the patient does not wish to. This type of therapy normally lasts around 3 months with weekly sessions varying from 60 to 90 minutes each. The patient will often start to feel better after the first few sessions, and the benefits of CPT are proven to last long after the final session with the provider.

Prolonged exposure is another PTSD treatment that helps people who associate various things with their trauma. The first step of this medication is to learn a breathing technique to help the patients deal with their anxiety, which is one of the symptoms of PTSD. Once the first step is completed the patients are asked to make a list of the things that they have avoided since the trauma, such as places, people or activities. The next step is vivo exposure, which is a therapy used to reduce a person’s fear of the certain place, person, or activity associated with the trauma.

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