Have you ever witnessed or been the victim of a traumatic event? Did you experience intense fear, helplessness or horror? Do you have recurrent, intrusive thoughts or perceptions of the event? Do you reexperience the event? Do you persistently avoid things or events associated with the event or try to numb the responses?
If so you may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.PTSD affects 10%-80% of individuals exposed to trauma. PTSD is influenced by three main factors: Pre-event factors, Event factors, and Post-event factors.
Pre-event factors include previous exposure, early depression or anxiety, ineffective coping, family instability, family history, substance abuse, trouble with authority lack of social support, early losses, gender (females are twice as likely to suffer PTSD), individuals under 25 years of age.
Event factors consist of geographic nearness to the event, the level of exposure, the meaning of the event, the younger you are in age, being a victim multiple times, duration, ongoing risk of a threat, if the event was intentional, participation in an atrocity.
Post-event factors include a lack of social support, the inability to change it, self-pity or neglect, unable to find meaning in the event, Acute stress disorder, the immediate reaction of psychological arousal, and avoidant or numbing symptoms.
PTSD has recently been called into question as to whether it changes the social cognition in individuals with this disorder.
DePrince studied impacts of betrayal trauma and suggested changes in social cognition as a possible mechanism for risk of revictimization.
” Trauma survivors are known to often experience severe problems in the social domain (also in context with the process of disclosure, as reviewed by Ullman ). The impact of social reaction—especially dysfunctional reactions such as denial or indifference— to trauma disclosure may influence processes of social cognition insofar as this may trigger more intrusions and fortify social retraction in trauma survivors.” (Nietlisbach, 396)
The factors previously listed shows the importance of social support and social bonds in whether or not an individual develops PTSD. So why hasn’t there been research into the impact of these social cognitive factors, such as theory of mind and the capacity to empathize as compared to a healthy control group?
PTSD is a relatively new disorder so while it is understanding that this area lacks research. It is important to recognize the need for more research and to create a deeper understanding for a disorder that is very commonly developed.
The PTSD Workbook – Mary Beth Williams, Soili Poijula