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Friday, September 14, 2012

Study: We Can Prepare To Prevent PTSD

English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...
Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is simply defined as: "a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death." PTSD experts caution that people who suffer from PTSD may also have problems with alcohol or other substance abuse, depression and related medical conditions.

Accurately diagnosing and developing treatment modalities for PTSD can be a very involved challenge. Many researchers are studying PTSD in great detail. 

Study on PTSD prevention...

It was reported this week that researchers at Emory University now want to understand if PTSD can be prevented.  Most of us read about PTSD and our veterans; however, we often forget that PTSD is not only experienced by veterans, but also by non-military citizens who experience a traumatic event in their life. These events can include rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, horrific accidents, natural disasters, and terrorist events. According to Dr. Barbara Rothbaum of Emory University, as reported by KPLCtv.com (NBC): "About 70 percent of us will be exposed to a traumatic event that could result in PTSD."

We can look to recent events here in the United States like the mass shooting in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, Hurricane Isaac, and numerous forest fires. In order to learn if PTSD can be prevented, Rothbaum and her colleagues recruited patients who had been admitted to the trauma center at Grady Memorial Hospital located in Atlanta, GA. Here is how they gathered data:
  • Patients were selected who had experienced being shot, assaulted or critically injured in a car accident.
  • Within hours of entering the emergency room, therapists recorded the patients' accounts of their traumatic experience.
  • Patients were then asked to listen to their own recording every day for several weeks. 
  • Patients were also taught techniques for relaxation and breathing. 
The results of this research experience indicate that those patients who were provided this treatment experience half the rate of PTSD and significantly less depression.  Rothbaum also concludes that this type of prevention therapy is easy to implement, is cost effective, and potentially can have a positive impact on literally thousands of citizens.

Here is a video report provided by KPLCtv.com:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

September is a month for recovery, prevention and preparedness...

As children and as we mature we often think of September as a time for new beginnings. A new school year starts, we celebrate Labor Day, we celebrate Grandparents' Day...September is traditionally a time of harvesting what we have sowed.

Perhaps it is this idea of new beginnings that inspires organizations to declare September as a time to focus on recovery, prevention and preparedness.  For example in the United States:
One last thought: PTSD is often associated with alcoholism and substance abuse, as well as suicide. There are many resources available to assist one suffering from PTSD and preparedness in our daily lives can help prevent PTSD as well as new ways to treat and prevent PTSD.

We must also remember that if someone is already suffering from PTSD they may need a family member or a close friend to reach out to them to assist them in finding the care and treatment they need so desperately.

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