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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Another very important predictor of PTSD is peri-traumatic dissociation in which the individual loses sense of self,/has a problem with images, and also lacks a sense of realization. That is, the person starts living an imaginative life that makes him/her relive past traumatizing events. PTSD can also be predicted by using the acute stress disorder in which a person lives a fearful life after a threatening event (Bryant and Harvey, 2003). A study conducted by Bryant and Harvey, 2003 showed that PTSD had more prevalence in women than in men. A sample of people was studied at different times after the occurrence of a traumatizing event and the results showed that more women had developed PTSD than their male counterparts. This is despite the fact that the stressful conditions to which the people were exposed may have been variable.

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Assessment of PTSD

The assessment of PTSD is crucial in determining patients who are at high risk of developing the condition so as to manage the condition earlier. PTSD can be assessed in different ways. Veazey et al. (2004) used a sample of 74 MVC survivors who were admitted to an emergency department. Victims with elevated heart rates were less likely to meet the criteria for PTSD 13 months after the accident and had fewer symptoms of PTSD. However, vital data such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure can still be used to assess PTSD. This is possible because in most cases, people involved in accidents may show signs of PTSD depending on the time that has elapsed after the occurrence of the accident.

Besides vital data, PTSD can also be assessed using physiological responsiveness. Veazey et al. (2004) examined differences in physiological responsiveness between MVA victims who had developed PTSD and those who had not. The researchers concluded that physiological responsiveness to situations that are reminiscent of the traumatic event is a useful tool for assessing patients who are at high risk of developing PTSD. Physiological responsiveness is measured by introducing stimuli that make the person remember what happened in the accident. The reaction of the person can then be assessed to see if he/she has developed PTSD.

Other processes have also been used in the prediction and determination of PTSD in people who have had traumatizing experiences. For instance, Meiser-Stedman et al. (2008) did a study in which they sought to determine whether cognitive processes can be used to predict PTSD in a sample of 59 child and adolescent victims of VMAs. Victims who were found to be slow in perception and learning were predicted to be highly likely to develop PTSD. During the study, it was found that PSTD showed itself in victims who were unable to sufficiently appraise situations leading to possibly traumatizing events. This implies that they are prone to be subjected to further traumatizing situations which increase their possibility of suffering from PTSD.

Factors Associated with PTSD

PTSD is associated with several symptoms. Victims with PTSD portray a greater incidence of depression and anxiety problems in comparison to non-PTSD victims (Kupchik et al., 2007; Mayou et al., 2001). They also exhibit alexithymia, which is an adaptive way of dealing with stress in which the patient is unable to express his/her feelings/emotions verbally (Alvarez & Shipko 1991). Unlike other studies which viewed gender as a risk factor for PTSD, Jeavons (2007) showed that gender has no association with PTSD. However, it is common knowledge that a traumatizing event occurring to both a woman and a man is more likely to traumatize the woman more under normal circumstances. Other studies assert that PTSD is not associated with past traumatic experiences (Koren, Amon, and Klein1999) or premorbid psychiatric conditions (Ursano et al.1999). These studies contradict other studies which found that PTSD is significantly associated with a past history of psychiatric morbidity (Kuch, Cox and Evans 1996; Irish et al.2008), anxiety disorders, psychiatric treatment and past experience of motor vehicle accidents (Koren et al.1999; Harvey and Bryant 1999).

Some scholars such as Jeavons (2000) argue that it is the unique experience of the individual with the event and his/her coping mechanism that determine whether the person will suffer from PTSD. This is as opposed to the belief that the features of the event dictate whether the victim will suffer PTSD or not.

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