When was the term PTSD coined?

The term ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’ (PTSD) was coined in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association. The condition first began to be recognized and discussed around the same time, with researchers such as Judith Herman publishing pioneering research on the psychological effects of trauma in 1976. PTSD had previously been known under a variety of names including “shell shock,” “battle fatigue,” and “traumatic war neurosis.”.

Historical Context of a Traumatic Disorder

The terms Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and post-traumatic stress have been in use since the late 1970s. However, long before this time traumatic disorders had been extensively studied by psychologists. The first official recognition of PTSD came at a 1980 United Nations conference held to increase awareness about psychological trauma and its effects on individuals after experiencing a terrifying event or series of events. Following this important gathering, psychoanalysts began looking at ways to help those suffering from PTSD symptoms.

Throughout history mental health professionals have identified various components that can contribute to traumatic reactions and their associated symptoms. In ancient times, combat was seen as one example of how humans experienced extreme duress; however now war-related trauma is only one form of PTSD that we understand today. Other causes include natural disasters, violence, witnessing violence or death and car accidents amongst other high intensity life experiences. This further evidences the complexity with which humans must interact with their world, while showing that even in antiquity people recognized and responded to different types of psychological distress.

In examining our understanding throughout time it becomes clear that there are multiple threads leading up to where we currently stand in regards to recognizing trauma related issues such as PTSD. From Freud’s early work discussing ‘war neurosis’ through the cultural context provided by writers such as Herman Melville’s famous novel Moby Dick; the legacy of our collective experience extends into current definitions and treatment protocols for patients who suffer from these afflictions today.

The Beginning of Awareness in the Medical Community

In the medical community, awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder began to emerge in the early 1970s. It was at this time that some doctors and healthcare professionals first started identifying similar symptoms in those affected by war trauma, which often included heightened levels of anxiety and depression. As these observations were discussed among the scientific community, new terms soon came into play such as ‘shell shock’ and ‘war neurosis’, however it was not until 1980 when American psychiatrist Jonathon Davidson published an article in The American Journal of Psychiatry that a label describing PTSD appeared – ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’.

Dr Davidson’s paper detailed his findings on 37 Vietnam veterans he had been treating for severe psychological stress. He found that these individuals suffered from extreme flashbacks and nightmares linked to their horrific wartime experiences. This led him to conclude that there was a distinct mental illness caused by traumatic events, worthy of its own diagnosis – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short.

After this groundbreaking paper was released, other psychiatrists around the world followed suit with studies dedicated to documenting further cases of PTSD from various countries involved in wars during the twentieth century. More notably, interest began gathering momentum regarding incidents outside of conflict settings such as violent crimes or natural disasters which may have caused long-term psychological damage akin to what veterans experienced during warfare. All these pieces slowly contributed towards building greater recognition of PTSD within both general public and healthcare circles alike.

Development and Evolution of PTSD Description

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) formalized post traumatic stress disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Prior to this, a variety of terms were used to describe symptoms that are now classified as PTSD. In World War I, doctors noted ‘shell shock’, describing soldiers with excessive fears and avoidance behaviors after a battle. In 1926 Karl Menninger suggested the term ‘combat neurosis’ which included physical symptoms like headaches and digestive problems related to trauma. After WWII, survivors were described as having ‘gross stress reaction’ or ‘war fatigue’ if they continued to experience psychological distress such as flashbacks and feelings of fear.

Throughout the decades leading up to the DSM-III in 1980 more research conducted by scientists such as Robert Jay Lifton identified features of PTSD such as re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance behavior and heightened arousal – though it was not yet called PTSD. The DSM-III incorporated these findings into their manual making significant advances towards standardizing diagnosis of what is now known as PTSD across clinical settings. Further refinements were made in subsequent editions of the manual improving on previous descriptions for even clearer definition enabling clinicians to diagnose more accurately for better treatment plans for those affected by it today.

Exploration of Causative Factors for PTSD Diagnosis

The roots of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be traced as far back to the time of ancient Greece and has since been recognized by various forms in many different cultures. Yet, the term PTSD was not officially coined until 1980 when it appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). It is no surprise then that researchers have long worked to uncover which factors may lead to an individual being diagnosed with this mental health disorder.

In order to gain insight into potential causative agents for PTSD diagnosis, a study was conducted on individuals who had previously encountered life-threatening traumas such as combat experience or sexual assault. The results suggested that feeling powerless during traumatic events increased the likelihood of diagnosing PTSD later in life due to greater fear reactions. Attributing blame upon themselves for their inability to act during their trauma was found significantly associated with worse psychological outcomes for those studied. Coping behaviors used by participants were also correlated with risk levels; passive coping styles were more strongly linked to subsequent PTSD symptoms than active problem solving approaches.

Moreover, other socioeconomic factors like ethnicity and race played roles too: minorities faced higher risks than white people while gender emerged as another significant factor influencing susceptibility to diagnose PTSD following a traumatic incident due to differences in psychosocial environments experienced by males and females. Exploration into what leads someone towards a possible diagnosis of PTSD revealed various components at play, highlighting just how complex human emotion and response can be after experiencing difficulties or distressful situations.

Current Understanding and Treatment Approaches for PTSD

In recent years, the understanding and treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has improved significantly. As a result, more and more people are receiving the care they need for this debilitating mental health condition.

Medical professionals now recognize that traumatic experiences can trigger PTSD symptoms in individuals – even those without any previous signs of mental illness. Current knowledge acknowledges that these symptoms can vary in severity and include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and depression. Diagnosing PTSD is done by evaluating an individual’s symptoms over time to assess the presence or absence of a traumatic event and its associated distress levels.

Treatment approaches used to combat PTSD often depend on the severity of one’s symptoms as well as their ability to access medical assistance. Typically it includes psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation. Medication might also be prescribed if deemed necessary by clinicians. Those with extreme cases may benefit from inpatient hospitalization until their symptoms subside sufficiently enough to resume daily activities safely outside the hospital setting.

Research Studies that Paved the Way for Modern-Day Management of PTSD

Throughout history, the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been used to describe various emotional and mental disturbances. Though the term itself was not officially coined until 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association in its third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), some of the earliest medical descriptions date back to Civil War veterans in 1871. By understanding how PTSD was perceived prior to its official labeling, one can understand modern progress made in treating this challenging disorder.

With World War I came further research conducted into shell shock and trauma as psychologists attempted to make sense of soldiers’ extreme behaviors after experiencing horrific events on the battlefields. Early researchers such as Pierre Janet proposed that shell shock was an issue with memory retention which caused flashback episodes and phobias rather than psychological issues or physical damage from explosive warfare. As other studies revealed a host of symptoms including rapid shifts in mood, insomnia, hypervigilance, high startle response and aggression – all related to traumatic experience – it became increasingly apparent that more comprehensive study was necessary.

In 1950, Australian psychoanalyst Judith Lewis Herman wrote her dissertation on “emotional debilitation” which marked a shift away from previous interpretations that attributed emotional disturbances only to hysterical behavior or moral failure among Vietnam veterans. This same decade saw further breakthroughs when Eli Shalit published his thesis regarding war syndrome due to his own observations while serving in Israel’s army during 1973 Yom Kippur War. As recognition grew for distinct reactions experienced by those exposed to both natural disasters and combat settings, multiple governmental agencies led initiatives aimed at addressing these problems resulting in greater awareness throughout civil society. The advances made within this field resulted in better screening protocols being implemented for military personnel along with improved methods for diagnosing individuals seeking help for symptoms associated with PTSD whether stemming from wartime experiences or otherwise traumatic incidences during their life journey.

Future Directions to Move Forward from Historical Foundation

Now that the origin of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been established, it is time to look towards its future. It is important to understand the current landscape of PTSD in order to move forward with possible solutions and treatments. The medical field must continue exploring ways of understanding and effectively treating patients suffering from the disorder.

One area currently being investigated is Neurocognitive Therapy (NCT), which focuses on how different parts of the brain are affected by a trauma or stressor. This therapy tries to make connections between how certain areas react when exposed to external stimuli such as sound, smell, sight, and other triggers that can lead to flashbacks or other reactions from someone with PTSD. NCT researchers strive for better recognition of how certain parts of the brain interact with emotions associated with memory recall, so that those diagnosed can better identify their triggers and prevent relapse episodes due to particular sensory inputs.

With advances in technology like virtual reality exposure therapy becoming increasingly accessible, more resources are available now than ever before for PTSD sufferers trying improve their quality of life after experiencing a traumatic event. VR allows individuals to experience relevant scenarios within a safe environment while making sure they feel supported by clinicians during these experiences. These therapies offer treatment strategies previously unavailable but provide hope for people struggling with this disabling condition.

About the author.
Jay Roberts is the founder of the Debox Method and after nearly 10 years and hundreds of sessions, an expert in the art of emotional release to remove the negative effects of trauma. Through his book, courses, coaching, and talks Jay’s goal is to teach as many people as he can the power of the Debox Method. 

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