Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder experienced by individuals who have suffered a major traumatic event in their lives. A traumatic event could be the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, combat, sexual abuse, torture, or imprisonment. Individuals who suffer from this disorder usually have flashbacks of the terrifying event, high levels of anxiety, and a strong will to avoid anything that can remind them of the life-changing event (Hoge & Castro, 2006).
Nature and nurture both contribute significantly to the advent of PTSD. PTSD is a heritable disease meaning that if one of an individual’s close relatives or ancestors suffers from the disease then there is a high risk that the individual will suffer from the disease as well. Some genetic factors might make an individual genetically predisposed to the anxiety disorders. It has also been shown that individuals who have a smaller hippocampus usually end up with PTSD because of their higher sensitivity to traumatic events.
The role of nature in the development of PTSD can be explained through our evolution. Humans have used fear for millennia in order to survive for future generations. It is still part of our nature to fear what we cannot control and to avoid such situations with all of our mental will. Our evolutionary experiences can also be used to experience some of the modern fears that we have today.
Psychological, biomedical, and social approaches can be used in the treatment of PTSD. This is based on the bio-psycho-social model that proposes anxiety disorders such as PTSD are usually caused by a combination of social-cultural, biological, and psychological factors. An individual can be genetically predisposed to PTSD, but biological and environmental issues can exacerbate the problem until it becomes a full-blown anxiety disorder.
The video provides a brief overview of cognitive behavior therapy and its benefits to individuals suffering from psychological disorders. This type of therapy attempts to treat such individuals by focusing on present thinking patterns and attempting to alter or modify these for the overall improvement of the individual’s health (both mental and physical). One striking aspect about this approach is that the therapy does not focus on experiences and traumas with a view of explaining current behavior. Rather, it focuses on current behavior and the methods that are available to change these behaviors. Therefore, this approach does not try to explain the underlying problems that might be the cause of the client’s behavioral problems.
According to Beck (1976), cognitive behavior therapy focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The premise here is that our thinking, behavior, and feelings all serve to reinforce one another making them recursive. This means that if the individual can change his thoughts about himself and his current situation or his behavior towards himself and others then he can ultimately feel better about himself.
There are two methods used in cognitive behavior therapy. These methods are discussions and behavior experimentation. With the discussions, the therapist and client discuss some of the negative beliefs that the client might possess. Behavior experimentation involves testing the individual’s beliefs by guiding him on how to change certain behaviors and examining the results of this behavior change. It is important to note that most cognitive behavior therapy use a combination of cognitive and behavioral approaches in the treatment of patients with psychological disorders.
The information presented is beneficial to all of us interested in psychology because it provides a structured approach to dealing with most of the psychological and anxiety disorders that we encounter daily. The approach can be used in the treatment of bulimia, OCD, personality disorders, as well as attention-deficit disorders.
Beck, A. T. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York, NY: New American Library.
Hoge, C., & Castro, C. (2006). Post-traumatic stress disorder in UK and U.S. forces deployed to Iraq. Lancet, 368,867.