Final Project Topic Week 1 Assignment Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Justin Gage

PSY350 Physiological Psychology

John Cosma

09 August 2021

Final Project Topic Week 1 Assignment Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Topic Explanation

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness characterized by someone’s failure to recover from a traumatic experience or witnessing a terrific event. This condition can last in the brain of the patient for weeks, months or even years. The state can only be reflected after a trigger that brings back the terrifying memories accompanied by intensive emotional and physical reactions (Lewis et al., 2019). Some of the symptoms of the illness include dreams, avoiding traumatic events, anxiety, depressed mood, increased response to stimuli and flashbacks. PTSD can be treated using psychotherapy or using medications in a clinical setting.

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by different causative factors which instigate the recall of the traumatic experiences. Some of the causes of PTSD include involvement or witnessing a tragic accident that involved serious injuries or deaths (Lewis et al., 2019). Physical and sexual assault as a young person or as an adult can also cause PTSD. Childhood and domestic abuse have also been cited as triggers of post-traumatic stress disorder among teenagers. People may also develop PTSD when they are exposed to traumatic events at work, of which some may be remote exposure. Studies have shown that about 7% of people with serious illnesses who end up in the intensive care unit may experience PTSD symptoms (Wallace & Sweetman, 2020). Childbirth experiences among women are another cause of PTSD among young mothers.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Associated Factors

There is no evidence to suggest that PTSD can be inherited from parents to offspring. Therefore, it is not a genetic disorder. However, some of the factors that trigger the disease can be familial. For instance, someone who lived in a family that people or a member had PTSD may also develop the disorder with time (Wallace & Sweetman, 2020). Again, the main associated factors that trigger PTSD are environmental because many of the causes are physical. Similarly, PTSD is also associated with lifestyle issues, such as living in a family with abuse and violence.

PTSD Pathology

In many instances, people who have PTSD demonstrate a high level of hypersensitivity in the sympathetic autonomic nervous systems (Lewis et al., 2019). This instigates changes in heartbeat rate, skin conductance levels, high blood pressure, and other psychophysiological experiences (Wallace & Sweetman, 2020). Similarly, patients with post-traumatic stress disorder have episodes of noradrenergic reactivity to changes in pharmacological and related challenges.

Treatment Options For PTSD (Pharmacological) and Nonpharmacological Treatments)

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be treated using medication in the clinical setting and under a psychotherapy setting. In the clinical setting, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PTSD treatment (Wallace & Sweetman, 2020). This medication manages the symptoms associated with patients’ disorders, such as hypersensitivity and activity. In the therapeutic setting, cognitive behavioural therapy is used to manage and treat PTSD in the short and long terms.

PTSD Technologies

The commonly used technology to treat PTSD is Virtual Reality exposure Therapy. With rationales for the use of these treatments based on current understanding of the neurobiology of the disorder. In the experiments that used virtual reality exposure therapy, the patients are exposed to an environment with elements that the patient may have faced, which may have caused PTSD (Lewis et al., 2019). Studies have shown that exposure to the events reduces PTSD symptoms in the short term. Another technology used to diagnose PTSD includes functional MRI, which examines the structure and identifies areas damaged or affected by the psychiatric condition.


Lewis, S. J., Arseneault, L., Caspi, A., Fisher, H. L., Matthews, T., Moffitt, T. E., & Danese, A. (2019). The epidemiology of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in a representative cohort of young people in England and Wales. The Lancet Psychiatry6(3), 247-256.

Wallace, D. M., & Sweetman, A. (2020). Comorbid sleep apnea, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia: underlying mechanisms and treatment implications—a commentary on El Solh et al.’s Impact of low arousal threshold on the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sleep and Breathing, 1-3.

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