Phone: 712-732-3349 - Redenbaugh Chiropractic: 801 Hudson Street, Storm Lake, Iowa 50588

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?


What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What was the last traumatic news event you heard about on the TV, radio or internet? How long after you heard the story did you stop thinking about it?

If you are like most people, you may have simply forgotten the event once the next news segment was mentioned.
For those suffering with PTSD it is a different story.

What they experience is like watching the same traumatic event in their mind in an endless loop unable to change the channel.
It is like the traumatic event gets stuck in the brain. The person is unable to resolve the event, forget the event or move past it. You can view this video to get a better understanding of PTSD.

In the mind of the PTSD sufferer the trauma reminder is often triggered by events most people consider common place.
A loud startling noise, crowded store and rush-hour traffic can all trigger the brain of the PTSD sufferer.

In recent years the disorder has gained attention in the media because of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
But, this trauma often takes form from a motor vehicle accident.

A closer look at PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been recognized since 1980.
Traumatic events are nothing new in human history, but how we understand them has greatly improved.
The human, social and personal effects are understood much better now and we are able to offer treatments to aid in recovery.

According to the American Psychiatric Association PTSD is an anxiety disorder with 4 criteria: 1.
1. Exposed to or witness an event threatening to their personal safety and express fear, horror, or helplessness following the trauma.
2. Re-experience symptoms often expressed as nightmares, vivid memories of trauma, sense of reexperienceing trauma, physiological distress when reminded of trauma.
3. Person resorts to avoidance symptoms including amnesia of the traumatic event, social withdrawal, emotional numbing.
4. Person experiences insomnia – difficulty sleeping, irritability, gets startled easy called hypervigilence.

In our chiropractic office in Storm Lake, we most often see people suffering from PTSD related to Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s).
We also often see head injuries related to the PTSD, we will discuss this more in another post [link].
The more interesting aspect of PTSD is the 30 day delayed onset of the related symptoms.

We do not understand the exact mechanism of why this happens, yet.
The traumatic event occurs and PTSD may or may not manifest after about 30 days.

In between the traumatic event and the onset of PTSD acute stress disorder (ASD) is experienced.
The best way to understand this process is to consider PTSD in 3 parts.

Part 1. Occurrence of the traumatic event.

Part 2. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occurring less than 30 days following the traumatic event.

Part 3. Onset of PTSD 30 or more days following the traumatic event.

Traumatic event — ASD — PTSD

What is ASD I thought we were discussing PTSD?

ASD is a relatively new diagnostic description for what happens to a person from the time of the traumatic event up to 30 days.
It as if the brain is fluctuating in an attempt to heal from the trauma.

If the brain is unsuccessful PTSD will most likely happen.
ASD is considered a predictor for PTSD and has its own related symptoms.

We will discuss this in more detail in a later post.
But for right now I want you to understand that ASD can evolve into PTSD over the first 30 days after an event.

What symptoms should you observe if you or someone you know has been in an accident?

According to the International Classification of Disease (ICD) the following symptoms to relate to PTSD:

Acute stress reaction which includes:
daze, stupor (removed from the situation – drunken like), and amnesia (partial or total memory loss).

Anxiety may or may not be associated with:
increased heart rate (tachycardia), sweating, and flushing (“blushing – like” reaction of the skin)

often excessive or heightened since the traumatic event when compared to prior.

Depressive reactions:
these symptoms are often best recognized and diagnosed by a medical doctor, but you may notice them as depression.

Understanding these symptoms may help you better understand what is happening with yourself or a loved one.
If you are experiencing these symptoms be certain to inform your primary care doctor.
The better we all understand PTSD the better we can help and heal.

Quick Summary:
PTSD is diagnosed 30 days or more fallowing a traumatic event
ASD is diagnosed 29 or less days following the trauma
Common with car accidents victims and war veterans
Symptoms include: daze, stupor, and amnesia
Anxiety including increased heart rate, sweating, and flushed skin
Heightened anger
Be aware of these symptoms with people who have experienced traumatic events.

1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1994.

2. Isserlin L, Zerach G, Solomon Z. Acute stress responses: a review and synthesis of ASD, ASR, and CSR. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2008;78:423-429.

Picture Citation:

Leave a Reply

Phone: 712-732-3349 - Redenbaugh Chiropractic: 801 Hudson Street, Storm Lake, Iowa 50588