Date of Award


Document Type

Research Report


Dr. Randy Laist


Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a complex condition. In the United States this psychological disorder will affect some five million people each year. Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Some typical traumas associated with PTSD include but are not limited to military combat, sexual abuse, car accidents and natural disasters. The symptoms associated with PTSD include depression, emotional numbness, anxiety, flashbacks, and hyper-sensitivity. Many people will turn to the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with the symptoms. This coping mechanism is certain to exacerbate the symptoms associated with PTSD. It also can have a negative effect on family and other close relationships.

Although any individual is at risk of experiencing a traumatic event, some individuals have a greater risk of experiencing a traumatic event. Such factors include gender and race. Environmental factors such as living in poverty or an urban setting also play a role.

PTSD is especially prevalent in soldiers who return from war. Recent studies have determined that the tendency to develop PTSD may be a genetic factor. The rate of soldiers returning from combat and seeking the help of the Veterans Association for symptoms of PTSD has risen drastically since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is difficult to determine how many suicides result from PTSD, but an estimated 22 soldiers commit suicide each day.

Although women and men tend to experience comparable rates of traumatic events, PTSD will occur in twice as many woman than in men. Women are twice as likely to be assaulted by a known perpetrator and thirteen times more likely to report a sexual assault.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for sufferers of PTSD. Recovery will take time and a lot of effort. Treatments available include medication, counseling, and family therapy. Facing the traumas and learning new ways to cope with PTSD is imperative.


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