Post traumatic stress disorder – development of treatments
Over the years traumatic events have blighted the world with increased frequency. Recent events in Paris will have seen individuals traumatised by events as they occurred before them. Many will seek or be given help for PTSD but many others will be missed , possibly not realising that they will need support now or possibly sometime in the future.
The shooting in Norway in 2011 saw 69 young people killed and 56 severely injured. Following this event (Dyb et al.), 490 survivors were interviewed. PTSD full criteria was met in 11% of these survivors. This represented a six times greater level than the general populace. Negative influencing factors on PTSD included the fact that they were currently suffering pain, that they were Non Norwegian, had lost a close friend and were female. A strong positive influence was seen because of strong social support that followed the event.
Different traumatic events can produce different results and US war veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were reported by the British Journal of Psychiatry (2014) 204,5 to show cases of severe violence. Here sufferers of PTSD were found to undertake acts of severe violence which were associated with alcohol misuse . Alcohol appeared to be key to the violence. This is understandable in that alcohol is a depressant, which depresses the higher cortical functioning, that of executive functioning. Thus depression of the prefrontal cortex results in a removal inhibition. the net effect is reduced ability of restraint and judgement.
Finally 70 years have now passed and countries across the world have undertaken memorial events for the liberation of Auschwitz
With over one million people killed in that concentration camp alone, survivors of Auschwitz experienced psychological trauma upon an unimaginable epic scale. 70 years ago our understanding of PTSD was sadly not as good as it is today and many survivors would have found it very difficult to receive effective treatment for the horrors experienced. One can only speculate upon the sheer number of people who suffered without proper treatment. The largest single holocaust in human history caused huge trauma in the lives of those in the camps and for individuals associated with the events for generations thereafter.
Whilst we all wish these human traumatic events were no longer part of the world we live in, they still happen. The fact that we are better equipped on a mental health level to deal with such events is a small consolation to those who experience such events.