An individual’s reaction to an exceptionally traumatic and stressful event ranges from a normative reaction to psychiatric disorders identifiable not only on the grounds of symptomology and course, but also on the basis of causative influence. An Acute stress reaction, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an Adjustment disorder are thought to arise always as a direct consequence of the acute stress or continued trauma. The time course of spontaneous recovery after a significantly traumatic experience varies considerably and individual vulnerability and coping capacity play a role in determining not only the severity, but also the occurrence of these disorders. They are maladaptive responses to severe or continued stress, which interfere with successful coping mechanisms and invariably lead to problems in personal, social and occupational functioning.
These individual conditions are detailed in the referenced links. It is important to clarify the distinction between a normative response to trauma and a disorder involving dysfunction and diagnosis serves the crucial clinical objectives of identifying individuals in need of treatment and guiding treatment selection. Psychological and pharmacological interventions may shorten the course of the normal posttraumatic response, reduce PTSD symptoms, prevent the development of chronic PTSD, help to restore functioning and prevent functional deterioration.
References and links:
Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(3):CD003388.
Hetrick SE, Purcell R, Garner B, Parslow B. Combined pharmacotherapy and psychological therapies for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(7):CD007316.
Roberts NP, Kitchiner NJ, Kenardy J, Bisson JI. Early psychological interventions to treat acute traumatic stress symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(3):CD007944.