Though Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD, has been described for all of recorded history – some even saying one of the first accounts of PTSD comes from the writings of Herodotus, the “Father of History” – it is only in recent years that we have begun to really understand this condition.
In the last hundred years, PTSD has been referred to by everything from “shell shock” to “battle fatigue”. Our modern understanding of PTSD is based on the fact that anyone can develop PTSD, but the development of an official diagnosis is a result of its long association with veterans of the armed forces.
How many veterans have PTSD?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of veterans with PTSD varies by service era:
- Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): Between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
- Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Vietnam War: Around 15 percent of Vietnam veterans were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the 1980s. It is estimated that about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
Among veterans who use Veterans Affairs for health care:
- Almost 25% of women reported sexual assault in the military
- About 55% of women and 38% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the military
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms of this condition can vary greatly depending on factors like each individual’s nervous system and how their body responds to stressful events. In most cases, these symptoms will develop in the days or weeks after a traumatic event, but in other cases may take longer periods, sometimes even years, to appear.
PTSD symptoms can generally be split into four subtypes:
- Intrusive memories and flashbacks to the traumatic event, as well as intense reactions to anything that reminds you of the trauma.
- Avoidance of anything that reminds you of the trauma, difficulty remembering parts of the trauma, a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, and a feeling of emotional numbness
- Hyperarousal, which includes anything from irritability, trouble sleeping, hypervigilance (being on alert all the time), being easily startled, angry outbursts, and self-destructive behavior.
- Negative changes in thoughts and actions such as feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and feelings of depression, hopelessness, mistrust, guilt, or self-blame.
What causes the development of PTSD?
Factors known to contribute to the development of PTSD include the following:
- Stressful experiences
- Previous traumatic events
- Family history of PTSD
- History of abuse
- Substance abuse
- Personal history of depression or other mental health conditions
- Overall temperament and the way your brain responds to stress
How is PTSD treated?
PTSD can make the future seem utterly hopeless, but the truth is that even people with the worst cases of PTSD can find relief with the right treatment options and lifestyle changes. For decades now, the norm for PTSD treatment has been antidepressants or psychotherapy sessions, but new treatments, like ketamine infusions, show great promise for a new era of treatment.
Ketamine for PTSD
Ketamine was first approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic, but in recent years has been shown to be a powerful, rapid-acting treatment for mood disorders like PTSD. Research indicates that ketamine plays a role in the treatment of mood disorders through its interaction with the neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Glutamate is a powerful neurotransmitter that mediates the body’s response to stress and traumatic memories. One of the key differences seen with PTSD patients treated with ketamine was that most patients had improvements in their symptoms within hours, as opposed to the weeks seen with traditional pill medications.
To learn more about ketamine and its use as a promising new treatment for PTSD, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.