PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria – with the deployment of soldiers in crisis areas, these people are confronted with the horrors of war. The term PTSD keeps cropping up: soldiers who have a mental illness when they return; Local people who are fleeing the war not only physically but also mentally injured. But other highly stressful events can also leave their mark. Terrible events that stress the human psyche can trigger two types of reactions at any age: a normal acute stress reaction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which requires treatment. In the past, such reactions were summarized under the term mental stress syndrome.

The acute stress reaction

The acute stress reaction is a natural reaction to an abnormal situation, a temporary phase in which the body and soul react to unusual, severe physical and psychological stress (trauma). These are, for example, events that you have experienced yourself or witnessed, such as an accident, rape or another violent crime, a natural disaster or the loss of an important caregiver.

But even after a severe physical disorder, such as a heart attack, an acute stress reaction can occur. It is estimated that after a significant disaster, up to 90 per cent of those affected show an acute stress reaction.


How does an acute stress reaction manifest itself?

The extent depends on the individual and current constitution; the duration is a few hours to several days. Usually, the symptoms gradually subside after about eight hours and subside entirely within three days.

Initially, shortly after the event, the affected person feels numb, has difficulty concentrating and orienting himself, has trouble sleeping and gives the impression that he doesn’t care or reacts inappropriately. He often refuses to acknowledge the situation and tries to withdraw. But outbursts of anger, aggression and overactivity also occur.

Such reactions may also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as:

In principle, the symptoms resemble a generalized anxiety disorder. There are no clear criteria that can be used to predict whether a normal stress reaction will turn into a pathological stress disorder.

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