Posttraumatic stress disorder
Can people still be suffering from traumatic events 50 years on?
During the course of a lifetime, about 8% of the Dutch population develop a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can occur after experiencing shocking events that cause chronic psychological distress, such as a car accident, violence, a burglary, (sexual) abuse, or exposure to war areas. The American scientist Bonanno shows that upon exposure to a shocking event, four groups of people can be distinguished. The first group is the resilient group who do not suffer much from the shocking event; the second group is the gradually recovering group who deal with their trauma (PTSD) on their own or with the support of friends and family. The third group develops delayed PTSD (this can take years to emerge), and the last group suffers from direct chronic PTSD. Due to the chronic nature of PTSD, some people still suffer from the traumatic
event 50 years later. A number of these learned to live with the disorder, rather than recover from it. While others might have enrolled into psychotherapy to address their traumatic memories. In order to improve therapeutic interventions, our research attempts to predict which veterans and soldiers successfully complete PTSD treatment and which will not. Soldiers are more resistant to developing PTSD compared to the general population, but when they do develop PTSD, their treatment is often more complex and less effective compared to other PTSD populations.