Effects of PTSD. Be aware!

What are the effects of PTSD? People with PTSD have dramatically impaired ability to integrate the traumatic experience with other events of life. These traumatic memories do not exist in a form of a coherent story but consist of intense emotions and somatosensory elements, which become activated in a state of excitement or under the effect of specific stimuli and situations, which remind of the trauma. Due to the fact that traumatic memories fail to integrate into the cognitive scheme of individual and essentially do no change over time (which is the nature of psychological trauma), the victims get “stuck” in past events, treating them as a present experience.

One of the effects of PTSD is generalization of potential threat. Subjectively, the outside world appears unsafe: conventional sounds provoke an alarm reaction and everyday occurrence seems like a bad sign. In terms of adaptation the excitation of autonomic nervous system is a very important function, which activates all resources of organism in potentially significant situation. However, in those people, who are constantly in a state of hyperexcitation, this function is lost. Thus, normal physiological sensations can acquire a new threatening meaning. Personal physiological activity becomes another source of fear for the individual.

People that have been exposed to traumatic stress, lose their ability of flexible response to the environmental changes, which may be manifested in learning difficulties.

Another of common effects of PTSD is that after traumatic event the self-perception and a picture of world around is changing completely and can never be the same again. Many injured patients, especially children, tend to blame themselves for what had happened. Self-accusation allows to compensate the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability for illusion of potential control. It is established that victims of sexual violence, blaming themselves for the incident, have better prognosis than those, who do not take false responsibility.

Compulsive reexperiencing of traumatic event (yet another of effects of PTSD) is a behavioral pattern, which occurs in people, who have experienced a traumatic influence and is manifested in unconscious desire of individual to participate in similar to the initial traumatic event situations. Understanding of this paradoxical phenomenon may help to clarify some aspects of deviant behavior in social and interpersonal spheres. An individual, showing similar behavioral patterns, can act as a victim or an aggressor.

Continuos psychological reexperiencing of traumatic event is a major cause of outrages and assaults in society. Pursuing by intrusive memories and thoughts of the trauma, traumatized individuals begin to organize their lives in order to avoid emotions, which are provoked by these memories. Avoidant behavior can take many forms, such as isolation from reminders of the event, alcohol or drug abuse and so on. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) can also take place. All this weakens and breaks the relations with others and, in result, reduces the interpersonal adjustment.

Physical avoidance of situations or activities, which resemble or symbolize the traumatic event, may interfere with these relationships and lead to marital conflict, divorce or job loss.