UQx PSYC1030.3x 5-4-2 Psychological consequences of stress continued


A severe psychological effect as a result
of stress is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks,
reliving the traumatic event, loss of interest in important activities, hypervigilance, and
difficulty concentrating. PTSD is common in people returning home from
military service, and also in civilians in war zones. PTSD is a majorly disruptive disorder. PTSD is also common in people who work in
emergency services. For example, people who are first responders
to car accidents such as ambulance workers and police officers. Those suffering from PTSD need extra support
through counseling and other professional help. There was some concern around September 11
that the massive television coverage of the terrorist attacks back then would produce
an outbreak of PTSD around the world, because people thought maybe you can be traumatised
and develop PTSD through viewing media coverage about the event. There’s no strong evidence suggesting that
adults are susceptible to PTSD via media coverage, but young children can be. So the advice is still, when there are tragic
events showing on the news, we really shouldn’t let young children watch the news. To give you a sense of the scope of PTSD,
Hoge and colleagues looked at the number of soldiers who developed PTSD after they returned
home from Iraq and Afghanistan. They estimated between 15.6% to 17.1% of those
who returned home from Iraq and 11.2% of those who returned home from Afghanistan had PTSD. When you think about the large number of people
who served in those war zones, that’s a lot of people. In 2007, it was estimated that approximately
300,000 former service members developed PTSD after returning home from war. Due to the symptoms that are associated with
the condition, it can be difficult for soldiers suffering from PTSD after returning home to
reintegrate back into their community. It’s an incredibly debilitating condition. Other than PTSD, problems that people sometimes
experience from prolonged stress include: sleep disturbances, sexual difficulties, poor
academic or workplace performance, and alcohol and drug abuse. Some disorders that are triggered by chronic
stress include: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. Stress can make people more susceptible to
them. Now, these are all negative effects of stress,
but there are some positive effects of stress. Susan Folkman and her research team have looked
at stress experienced by people whose partners were diagnosed with a terminal illness. Living and caring for a loved one who’s dying
is extremely traumatic for people. However, Folkman found people who were able
to navigate their way through the traumatic period, and came out the other side and dealt
with the stress, actually developed a set of new skills. They had reevaluated priorities and an enhanced
self-concept. After these people who have been through the
traumatic experience of losing a loved one, when they experienced subsequent stress, they
dealt with it in a more constructive way. They were able to respond to stress more effectively,
and they were not as badly affected by day-to-day stresses. So, people can actually come out of stressful
events with new skills and resilience, and these are the positive effects of stress.

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