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PTSD: Yesterday and today
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been associated with any traumatic event which leaves the witness/participant with feelings of helplessness. There are several definitions for PTSD however, I believe the most accurate is: PTSD is an emotional injury based on a catastrophic event. The long-standing affects from events such as a fatal accident, being a victim of a rape or witnessing a violent event without the ability to assist the victims all involve symptoms of PTSD. However, today's application of PTSD symptoms to any traumatic event can be traced to historic military events.
The identifier PTSD was first used as a label by the American Psychological Association in 1980, but the emotional response to catastrophic events throughout history has been militarily known by other labels such as shell-shocked, combat fatigue or combat trauma.
Historically, symptoms of PTSD can be traced as far back as early as 800 B.C., where in Homer's "Iliad" he chronicles combat trauma and survivor's guilt resulting from the Trojan Wars. In 1688, military post-traumatic stress was first described in medical literature as "nostalgia" by a Swiss physician Johannes Hofer.During the Napoleonic War, Napoleon's chief surgeon identified combat stress to include symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, melancholy and heart palpitations. The surgeon recommended treatment such as listening to music, exercise and receiving useful instruction as a method of curing these symptoms.
During the Civil War, the Union Army identified 5,200 cases of "nostalgia" and 2,600 case of insanity, thought to be closely related, among the troops. Some of the cases were so severe that in 1864, the War Department ordered some of these stricken soldiers confined to a hospital until their families could take them home.
By 1871, Dr. Jacob Mendes Da Costa termed combat trauma as "a soldier's heart" because of the symptoms of a rapid heart rate, anxiety and hyperarousal in military personnel.
In World War I, soldiers with "staring eyes," violent tremors, deafness, blindness or paralysis were symptoms of the term "shell shocked." The U.S. Surgeon General issued a guideline in 1917 recommending treatment for soldiers suffering from such symptoms to include their immediate return to the front lines.
World War II renamed this injury as "combat fatigue." This was also the first time a study connected the condition to the duration and intensity of combat.
During the Korean War, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) called this psychological condition "stress-response syndrome."
Vietnam War proscribed treatment for those suffering from "stress-response syndrome" but determined that if their symptoms lasted more than 6 months after returning from Vietnam, the individual was judged to have been suffering from a "pre-existing condition" not PTSD.
Today, while the psychological community has come to realize that the symptoms connected with PTSD are real, the private sector seems to continue the notion that it's something that is "all in their head" or by just "getting over it" a person can get past the affects.
In a recent study, more than half of the active duty soldiers believed that seeking help for symptoms of PTSD, such as counseling, would hurt their careers. This stigma attached to the term PTSD is keeping those most in need of assistance from seeking help.
Clearly, whether in civilian or in military situations, involvement in traumatic events will leave a lasting impression on those involved and not addressing its affects is simply delaying future problems
I went through a traumatic experience while on duty. I eventually retired. It wasn't easy with all the doctors I saw almost all of them did not believe me when I told them about the sleepless nights and nightmares and the thoughts constantly on my mind. In fact, having to deal with unbelieving healthcare providers made my condition 10 times worse. The anxiety would go through the roof when I new an appointment was coming up.
I know there are people out there who lie about their condition just to retire or get money which makes it harder for people like me who are suffering pretty much in silence.
I just read an article about a man from WW2 who suffered with PTSD for over 50 years before seeking help. He said he just suffered in silence all those years because he didn't think anyone would believe him.
I myself never looked for help, I figured that the trauma happened, and then it was over. Case closed. Story Ended... I never realized that between the 2 covers of the book was where all the PTSD symptoms lived and acted independently no matter how stoic or brave I looked to the outside world.
I have not had to deal with the healthcare system as my case is a matter of a published news article featuring me. I am sorry that you have had such an awful time with anxiety and pain as your doctor appointments draw closer.
Yes, there are unscrupulous people all across the board and almost every medical condition has those who wish to have a better life with money from disability.
I do wish you the very best and hope to hear back from you that you are making strides towards recovery instead of suffering in silence.
Want a a referral to a good psych doc?
1. Would understand you
2. The second one has been through war himself