Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Situational Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Treatment

Table of Contents


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) refers to the condition that occurs when individuals come across traumatic events through experience or witnessing that involve severe injury, threatened, or actual death. Some traumatic events that may lead to PTSD include accidents, disasters, violence, military combat, or personal assault. Studies show that a combination of medications and other therapies can help in the treatment of PTSD patients (Krippner, Pitchford, & Davies, 2012).

Situational Events

Any person who might have gone through a life-threatening situation may develop PTSD. People who suffer from rape, accidents, sexual or physical abuse, floods, earthquakes, military troops, and survivors of such events can develop PTSD (Krippner et al., 2012). For instance, rescue workers who take part in catastrophe events such as the 2001 terrorist attack on Washington and New York City may end up developing PTSD. Family members and relatives of victims experiencing traumatic events may also develop the disorder (Krippner et al., 2012).

Research shows that women have higher chances of developing PTSD as compared to men. Other conditions such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders may accompany the disease (Krippner et al., 2012). PTSD also occurs among young children and adolescents. PTSD exists in different forms. The form that occurs within the first three months of the symptom manifestation is acute PTSD. Chronic PTSD occurs after the symptoms manifest for more than three months. Delayed-onset PTSD occurs when the symptoms last for at least six months (Krippner et al., 2012).

Clinical Manifestations (Symptoms)

PTSD has three main symptoms that occur immediately or after some time and are explained as follows:

  • Re-experiencing – It results when a trauma victim regularly re-experiences the effects of the incident in several ways. For instance, the patient may experience feelings of distress when they remember the events or recurrence of dreams, thoughts, images, and flashbacks (Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 2015).
  • Avoidance – It occurs if individuals shun the reminders of the incident. For instance, patients avoid things that may prompt recollection such as thoughts and other people. Additionally, patients experiencing this symptom lose their identity, thereby developing an emotional numbness. Besides, individuals face difficulties in remembering essential aspects of the event (Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 2015).
  • Increased arousal – It comprises signs of increased awareness of dangers, such as increased vigilance, irritability and sleeplessness, and anxiety (Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 2015).

Treatment and Therapies

There are different techniques used in the treatment of PTSD patients. Some preferred drugs for PTSD medication exist in the form of depressants. Paroxetine and sertraline are examples of depressants that help in managing PTSD. The antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs ease PTSD symptoms. These Antidepressants have some side effects, including nausea, agitation, sleeplessness, and headache (Foa, Hembree, & Rothbaum, 2007). Individuals with symptoms including recurrent nightmares and insomnia find relief when they take prazosin, which blocks adrenaline effects in the body. Osanetant medication worked on mice by blocking their fear memories after experiencing the trauma (Foa et al., 2007). Studies show that this drug can help in the prevention of PTSD when administered on the battlefield. Beta-blockers, mood stabilizers, and sleep aids are other medications that assist in reducing depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems. These drugs mainly reduce PTSD effects in patients suffering from the disorder (Foa et al., 2007).

Some therapies help in managing the PTSD issue. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals recognize their cognitive patterns and ways of thinking (Foa et al., 2007). CBT teaches people how to deal with stress and other problems. It also helps individuals in learning essential skills related to relaxation and other techniques of bringing individuals back to their normal conditions (Foa et al., 2007). Exposure therapy helps patients safely face the things they fear so that they may cope with such conditions. Besides, exposure therapy reduces the level of avoidance by helping victims talk about their experiences (Foa et al., 2007). Service dogs are also other common forms of treatment and especially for veterans (Foa et al., 2007). The dogs serve as pet therapy as well as social buffers thereby encouraging individuals to take exercise as well as acting as a de-escalation tool during periods of stress. Other forms of treatment include the use of meditation, yoga, and use of aquatic therapies (Foa et al., 2007).

Nurse’s Professional Approach

The first step for nurses handling PTSD patients is to warn people at the risk of symptoms and signs of PTSD after receiving treatment of initial trauma (, 2015). Nurses need to educate patients about possible symptoms, which will allow them to understand what to look for about the response to the trauma so that they may seek immediate help (, 2015). Secondly, nurses need to support joining forces through participation in online activities to assist in the general handling of PTSD. Thirdly, nurses need to undergo continuing education on PTSD and its related problems such as drug addiction and suicide so that they handle PTSD patients as required (, 2015). Fourthly, nurses taking care of PTSD patients need to be aware and familiar with the diagnostic criteria. Finally, nurses must encourage patients to practice healthy habits. Such messages turn out to be very helpful to PTSD patients (, 2015).


PTSD condition arises when individuals experience traumatic events. Situational events commonly lead to the disorder. PTSD may affect anyone, including children and adults. The typical PTSD symptoms are re-experiencing, avoidance, and increased arousal. Several medications and therapies help in the treatment of PTSD. Nurses need to follow a professional approach to handling PTSD patients with care.


Brain & Behavior Research Foundation: Frequently asked questions about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (2015). Web.

Foa, E. B., Hembree, E. A., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2007). Prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD: Therapist guide: emotional processing of traumatic experiences. New York: Oxford University Press.

Krippner, S., Pitchford, D. B., & Davies, J. (2012). Post-traumatic stress disorder. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood. Raising awareness about PTSD – A resource guide. (2015). Web.

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