Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy

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Posttraumatic stress disorder is defined by Lemma (1996) as an emotional illness that is common among people who have gone through life-threatening or frightening situations at one stage of their lives. It takes time before such a person can become emotionally normal. A person who is suffering from the posttraumatic disorder may sometimes behave abnormally. They may be violent even in cases where violence is not justified. This makes them very dangerous to other members of society if they are not offered a permanent solution to their problem. In this problem, the researcher will look at the causes of this mental problem, ways in which it can be addressed, and how nurses can handle these delicate patients.

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Situational Events That May Trigger Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

According to Wells (2013), the major cause of posttraumatic stress disorder is trauma. The level of trauma may define how much one is affected. Trauma may be a result of losing a loved one in a gruesome manner. For instance, a child who has witnessed their parents murdered in cold blood may suffer from the posttraumatic disorder. The memory of the events which led to the death of the parent can be so painful that such a person will get scared without any just cause. Another common cause of this mental problem is prolonged anxiety or depression. Andrews (2003) says that posttraumatic stress disorder is common among people who are working in highly stressful environments. When one is depressed either because of a lost loved one or an expectation that was not achieved, one can develop this mental problem.

According to Velotis (2005), when one is depressed, there may be an irregular release of hormones and chemicals into the body. Some of these chemicals may be released to parts of the brain. Under normal circumstances, our body systems have unique mechanisms of managing these hormones and chemicals when they are released in amounts larger than what is normal. However, when one suffers from prolonged depression, it means that the hormones will be released into the body for that long period. The system may not have the capacity of dealing with such conditions. In some rare cases, posttraumatic stress disorder may be an inherited mental problem. Craske (2009) says that some people have the natural problem of not being able to manage anxiety in their lives.

Clinical Manifestations of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder may be manifested in different ways. One of the most common clinical manifestations of this mental problem is recurring distressing memories of an event in the past. For instance, when one is attacked by a lion and succeeds to survive, then the memory of the attack can recur in the mind for some time. This can become worse if another person was devoured and killed in the process. The frightening event may recur in the mind, causing trauma to the affected individual. These unwanted flashbacks may cause serious emotional pain to the victim, making it necessary to find a solution to such a problem. Another manifestation is upsetting dreams. One may be able to manage painful memories when awake. However, these memories may be re-lived when one is asleep. Sometimes these nightmares may get worse, making it impossible for one to have a peaceful sleep. Such patients may find themselves screaming at night. According to Clark and Beck (2011), sometimes there may be physical reactions to an event or an object that brings back frightening memories. For example, one may get terrified at a mere sight of a black bull if was once attacked by a buffalo. Anything that resembles a buffalo will remind such a patient of the unfortunate event that occurred in the past. In some extreme cases, one may have suicidal thoughts.

Treatment and Therapies Involved Managing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

People suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder can get treated through medication and therapies. Some of the common prescriptions include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mini-press among others. The type of medicine is determined by the mental condition that one is suffering from. Andrews (2003) says that there are different types of therapies that one can be subjected to address this problem. Cognitive therapy is commonly used when trying to manage the thoughts of a patient. Exposure therapy is used when treating patients who have frightening memories of an event in the past. Eye movement reprocessing and desensitization are used when helping patients to forget an event that they saw in the past.

Nursing Care Plan on Managing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Nurses should plan how to manage posttraumatic stress disorder patients because some of them may be violent or moody. Nurses should have classes of patients in different wards based on their conditions. If they are not admitted, then each patient should get unique care based on the magnitude of the problem and reaction of the patient.


Posttraumatic stress disorder is common, especially among those who have gone through frightening situations. However, with proper medication and therapies, this mental problem can be eliminated.

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Andrews, G. (2003). The treatment of anxiety disorders: Clinician guides and patient manuals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, D. A., & Beck, A. T. (2011). Cognitive therapy of anxiety disorders: Science and practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Craske, M. G. (2009). Anxiety disorders and their treatment. Boulder: Westview.

Lemma, A. (1996). Introduction to psychopathology. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Ltd.

Velotis, C. M. (2005). Anxiety disorder research. New York: Nova Science.

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Wells, A. (2013). Cognitive therapy of anxiety disorders: A practice manual and conceptual guide. Hoboken: Wiley.

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NursingBird. (2022, April 28). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, April 28). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy.

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"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy." NursingBird, 28 Apr. 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy'. 28 April.


NursingBird. 2022. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy." April 28, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy." April 28, 2022.


NursingBird. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Trigger Events, Clinical Manifestations, and Therapy." April 28, 2022.