Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that occurs when certain people experience a traumatic or stressful event. After a traumatic occurrence, not everyone develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the case of the two friends who were caught in the school shooting, only one acquired post-traumatic disorder, while the other was able to go about his daily life as usual.

Physiological Changes

Dread generally causes biological and psychological changes in the body to assist people in coping with the stress caused by the fear. These physiological changes assist people in recovering from the impacts of a stressful or traumatic encounter, such as a school shooting. The brain regions that change during PTSD include the prefrontal, amygdala, and hippocampus. These regions of the brain release chemicals such as cortisol and norepinephrine after traumatic events. The chemicals help the brain cope with resulting stress. People who develop Post Traumatic Disorder after a tragic event show suppression in the release of chemicals like cortisols in areas of the brain like hippocampus. There are also genetic and environmental factors that may have made one of the friends recover quickly from the stress. A large volume of the hippocampal enhances the chance of people recovering from stress associated with traumatic events. When the hippocampal is large, the release of chemicals such as cortisol is normally high increasing the coping mechanisms of the body (Bremner, 2006).

Early Intervention

Early intervention after a traumatic event is critical to averting post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment involves the use of antidepressants which lower chronic behavioural deficits that are often associated with high levels of stress (Yehuda, 2002). An example of an antidepressant used in treatment is norepinephrine. It promotes the growth of nerves in the hippocampus. Failure to develop PTSD in one of the two friends who experienced the shooting was due to early treatment with antidepressants. If a patient takes a long time before receiving treatment, they may develop resistance to antidepressants. A small volume of the hippocampus is a signal that a patient has developed resistance to treatment.

Enhancing Brain Functioning

Antidepressants such as norepinephrine enhance the functioning of areas of the brain like the light thalamus. Early administration of the drugs can help patients who experience traumatic events avoid developing PTSD. One of the victims of the school shooting received early treatment and was able to lead a normal life thereafter.


Bremner, J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: effects on the brain. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. Retrieved Dec. 31, 2017, from

Yehuda, R. (2002). Post-traumatic stress disorder. New England journal of medicine. Retrieved Dec. 31, 2017, from

April 26, 2023



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