Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Overview

The majority of the population in recent times have heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) but have not quite been able to define it properly. They have also unfortunately not been properly informed on ways of coping and living with as well as helping those who suffer from the disorder (Allen, 1995).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an emotional condition that is a result of tragic and horrifying experiences suffered by an individual (Allen, 1995). These moments are often re-lived by the individual in cases where circumstances leading to the event are triggered by anything. For instance, if an individual experienced a horrifying fire tragedy involving either himself or a loved one, he might tend to re-live the moment every time a matchbox is lit (Marcia, 1995).

This paper will focus on a case study given by Irene, a 19-year-old Hispanic woman who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and will try to elaborate more on the disorder, as well as layout some recommendations on some treatment ideas (Allen, 1995).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is normally characterized by intense fear as well as feeling of helplessness. Trauma can be direct and personal or witnessed involving another person or other people (Marcia, 1995). Traumatic events such as fires, car wrecks, rape, natural disasters, torture and kidnappings lead to this disorder. The very first diagnosis was made in 1980, having World War II soldiers as its victims (Allen, 1995). In the United States alone research has shown that between 7% and 8% of its citizens develop PTSD, with a majority being Hispanics, African-Americans as well as Native Americans (Marcia, 1995).

Irene’s disorder was a result of losing her family in a fire tragedy and she has been experiencing thoughts of the tragedy both in dreams and while awake. Some of the symptoms normally experienced by individuals suffering from this disorder include difficulty in concentration, like in Irene’s case, overworking, eating disorders, intense physical reactions e.g. pounding heart, sweating, nausea (also seen in Irene’s case) as well as flashbacks of the event (Allen, 1995).

A few theories have been developed to try and clinically reason client’s issues, performance areas, mental illness as well as skills. Two of those theories include Psychological theory and Occupational Theory (OT) (Allen, 1995). Psychological theory tends to try and understand and deal with a patient’s situation by looking into his/her emotional attachment towards the people involved in the tragedy. On the other hand, Occupational theory tries to enable patients to engage in activities that will enhance their ability to get involved in the society (Marcia, 1995). It also enables individuals with impairments to be active in everyday life. Irene, having suffered from loss of peripheral vision in her left eye, would most benefit from this kind of therapy (Allen, 1995).

With this condition comes a list of problems suffered by the patients. Some of these problems include avoidance of public activities, indulgence in drugs and alcohol, loss of interest in life generally, nightmares, unusual tears as well as flashbacks (Allen, 1995). But on the other hand, there are also some strengths in that individual suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can try and reach out to others for help and support. They can also avoid use of alcohol and drugs and try to overcome their sense of helplessness by helping others for instance in donations and charities, voluntary work and so on (Ibid, 1995).

There are a number of treatment ideas which have been developed to cope with and try and deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as help the individuals suffering from it. The society in general needs to be educated on how to be patient and understanding towards the patient and not to interrupt when he/she is talking (Marcia, 1995). The patients are advised to try and engage themselves in fun and creative activities for instance reading novels, finding a pet to play with and nurture, going to movies, involving in photography, gardening, writing as well as filling in crosswords and jigsaw puzzles (Allen, 1995).

In conclusion, Irene should undergo Occupational therapy and try applying the recommendations suggested above so as to be able to overcome her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She, and others suffering from the same, will in turn learn to build their self-esteem and live their lives to their fullest.


Allen, Jon. (1995). Coping with Trauma: A Guide to Self-Understanding. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Marcia Cain Coling. (1995). Developing Integrated Programs: A Transdisciplinary Approach for Early Intervention. Therapy Skill Builders; Tucson, AZ.