Events such as Boston bombings could lead to recurrence of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, better known by its initials PTSD, is still not very well understood, decades after it was first defined. While most people might think of it still only in terms of stress from serving in or witnessing wartime combat, PTSD could come from any number of sources.

When it becomes severe, PTSD can be a crippling illness for people, often leading them to seek Social Security disability benefits if they are unable to work as a result of their condition.

People who have endured a traumatic experience might find themselves afflicted with PTSD. In many cases, a recurrence of symptoms could spring up due to another traumatic event, even if it is not experienced in person. One doctor in Boston who is an expert on PTSD says that people who are affected by trauma might have experienced something like PTSD in the wake of the recent events in Boston.

When the bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, images of the wounded victims dominated mass media for several days. Later, when the suspects were identified, a door-to-door manhunt — complete with shootings and explosions — transfixed people and led man people to feel overwhelmed by the sudden loss or potential for loss of normalcy in their lives.

In essence, the doctor says, people can feel helpless when they are traumatized; that helplessness can translate into tangible feelings such as depression and anxiety. He says it is important for people to make a difference between the possibility of something happening — often remote — and its probability. When people start thinking of the possibilities as probabilities, stress can result.

Source: Live Science, “Healing a Nation After Boston Bombing Trauma: Op-Ed,” Alan Manevitz, April 23, 2013