Emotional Trauma and Combat Stress Adapting information from American Psychiatric Association diagnostic criteria provides the following description of the conditions leading to emotional trauma from combat: A person experienced, witnessed or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others; and that person's response involved intense fear, helplessness or horror. The major signs and symptoms of PTSD and related disorders are: * A generally depressed demeanor, perhaps with occasional unexplained anxiety. * Nightmares that may or may not be related to actual past experiences. * Other sleep disturbances-any sleep abnormality that interferes with normal, restful sleep. * Decreased interest in pleasant activities, including loss of appetite but also a lack of interest in hobbies, family events, social life and the like. * Flashbacks-intense "reliving the event" experiences which sometimes involve several or all of the senses. * Intrusive memories-while not as intense as flashbacks, these unwanted remembering episodes intrude on the normal state of mind. * Physiological reactions-increased heart rate or breathing, the shakes, sweating and so on that accompany an intrusive memory or occur unexpectedly. * Cue-related reactions-for example, a victim may drop to the ground when hearing a loud gunshot-type sound. * Sexual dysfunction-may be an unusual decrease or, more rarely, an increase in sexual desire or activity. * Amnesia-inability to remember traumatic events. * Hyperstartle-a "jump/jerk" reaction to an unexpected stimulus. * Hypervigilance-a persistent "looking over the shoulder" phenomenon. * Atypical irritability or anger outbursts-especially a pattern that is abnormal given the individual's pretrauma behavior pattern. * Excessive alcohol or other drug consumption-including overuse of antianxiety or antidepression prescriptions, or use of illegal drugs.
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