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Flashcards in PTSD Deck (25)

How is PTSD defined by DSM 5? 

  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence (1 or more)
    • Directly experiencing the traumatic event
    • Witnessing in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others
    • Learning that it occurred to close family member or close friend (even must be violent or accidental)
    • Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s) 


What are the 3 symptoms clusters of PTSD?

  • Intrusions
  • Avoidance
  • Hyperarousal 


What are intrusions?

  • Traumatic event is persistently re-experienced
    • Recurrent & intrusive distressing recollections
    • Recurrent distressing dreams
    • Dissociative rxns: acting or feeling as if reliving the event (Continuum: to complete loss of awareness of the present)
    • Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues
    • Physiological reactivity to exposure to cues 


What is avoidance?

  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated w/ the trauma
    • Efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, feelings, about the traumatic event
    • Avoid external reminders activities, places or people, conversations, objects, situations that arouse recollections 


What is the "numbing" process that is a component of avoidance?

  • Negative alterations in cognitions & mood (“numbing”)
    • Inability to recall important aspects of the trauma
    • Persistent & exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about self, others or world
    • Persistent, distorted cognitions about the cause or consequence of the event
    • Persistent negative emotional state (fear, guilt, shame, anger)
    • Markedly diminished interest or participation in activities
    • Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
    • Persistent inability to experience positive emotions 


What is hyperarousal?

  • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal, marked alterations in arousal & reactivity
    • Sleep disturbance, difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • Irritability or outbursts of anger
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Hypervigilance
    • Exaggerated startle response
    • Reckless or self-destructive behaviors


What is the Horowitz Theory of Integration?

  • Over-control
    • Numbing
    • Denial
    • Dissociation
    • *negative alterations in mood & cognitions
  • Under-control
    • Flashbacks
    • Nightmares
    • Hyperarousal
    • *intrusions 



Duration of symptoms > ______
Disturbance causes significant _____ or _________ in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning 

>1 month

distress, impairment 


What is the prevalence of traumatic events in PTSD? 

  • 80% of population exposed to traumatic event
  • Disasters may create significant impairment in 40-50% of those exposed
  • Up to 45% of those exposed to natural disaster may develop PTSD or major depression or other psychiatric symptomatology 


What are the crisis-related symptoms of PTSD?

  • Anxiety, Panic
  • Elevated startle response
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Helplessness
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Impulsivity
  • Violence
  • Self-Medication 


What are the 3 key neurobiological players of trauma?

  • Amygdala
    • PET imaging shows amygdala activation to traumatic vs. neutral stimuli
  • Hippocampus
    • Reduced hippocampal volumes
  • Prefrontal cortex
    • LESS activation 


What are some highlights of the amygdala regarding PTSD?

  • Set of nuclei at the center of each temporal lobe
  • Dozen distinct areas, 2 involved in fear conditioning
  • Receive inputs from senses & memory; physiologic & behavior outputs
  • “Quick & dirty route”  vs. cortical route makes processing implicit
  • No conscious effort required
  • Amygdala activation mediates anxiety 


How are defense responses elicited from the amygdala?

Innate or learned sound --> Auditory Thalamus --> Auditory Cortex --> Lateral Amygdala --> Central Amygdala 

  • From the Central Amygdala:
    • Central Gray: Freezing
    • Lateral Hypothalamus: BP
    • Paraventricular Hypothalamus: Hormones



What are some highlights of the hippocampus regarding PTSD?

  • The hippocampus contextualized fear & regulates it on the basis of the situation we are in
  • Context is a psychological construction; a memory created on the spot about the various factors involved in a situation 


_________ hippocampal volume may be related to memory dysfunction in PTSD.  

Reduced hippocampal volume may be related to memory dysfunction in PTSD 


What are some highlights of the prefrontal cortex regarding PTSD? 

  • PFC & Amygdala are reciprocally related
  • When PFC is activated, the amygdala is inhibited, making it harder to express fear
  • The behavior of animals w/ PFC damage is similar to humans w/ PTSD: they develop fear rxns that are highly unregulated 


Prefrontal Cortex-Amygdala Pathways


Dysfunction in 3 main brain areas related to PTSD

Hyperactivity of the ______ has been shown in neutral conditions
________ _______ & _________ activation are inversely related
_______ decreased volume 


prefrontal cortex, amygdala



What are some fundamentals of psychotherapy for PTSD?

  • Traumatic memories are stored in a state of high physiologic arousal
  • Traumatic events are state dependent
  • Therefore, traumatic memories must be accessed in a state of similar emotional arousal 



Behavior Treatment

Behavior Deconditioning 

  • Behavior Treatment
    • Anxiety attempts to avoid fear-evoking stimuli
    • PTSD (avoidance) blocks exposure that promotes extinction
    • Focus on exposure treatments to facilitate extinction
  • Behavioral Deconditioning
    • Rate of Exposure
    • Flooding (implosive therapy)
    • Systematic desensitization 


What are the 3 types of therapy pathways?

Different pathways for 3 different types of therapy

  • Talk therapy (PFC-L; not directly connected to A)
  • CBT (PFC-M; directly connected to A)
  • Drug (directly connected to A & other brain areas) 


What are different types of cognitive behavioral therapies?

  • Stress Innoculation Training
  • Imagery Rescripting & Reprocessing Therapy
  • Cognitive Restructing Within Reliving
  • Imaginal/In-vivo Exposure
  • Prolonged Imaginal Exposure
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy 


Physician Screening Tool: Type I Trauma



Single incident

  • Questions
    • Have you experienced any vivid thoughts about the accident/injury?
    • What do you believe is the cause of the accident/injury?
    • Are you able to return to the place of the accident/injury?
    • What do you think could be done to prevent the accident/injury?
  • Changes
    • Problems w/ concentration
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Hypervigilance/increased startle response
    • Increased irritability
    • Changes in mood
    • Changes in appetite 


Physician Screening Tool: Type II Trauma 




  • Somatic complaints; all diagnostic resting is negative
  • Chronic depression and/or anxiety
  • Difficultly sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems: chunks of time during childhood that are not remembered
  • Flashback, nightmares or images of the past that continually intrude
  • Startle response grater than witnessed in others
  • Difficult w/ appetite/food or textures that are unappealing
  • Difficulty identifying, experiencing, tolerating or expressing anger
  • Problems knowing who to trust 


What are some comorbidities of PTSD?

  • Panic Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • OCD
  • Social Phobia
  • Specific Phobia
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Somatization Disorder
  • Substance-Related Disorders