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The Difference Between A Trip Up The Stairs and PTSD

April 30th, 2013 4 comments

We’ve all experienced it in some form. The sweaty palms, the pounding chest, the gasp of breath: the reliving of some unfortunate memory. Maybe it was a trip up the stairs, or a poorly executed class speech. These minor traumas delay our hectic lives for a moment; give us a second’s pause. But for some people, that pause lasts years instead of seconds.

So where is the distinction between these inconsequential daily events and a true trauma? What constitutes a true trauma for people our age? In 2006, Dorthe Berntsen and David Rubin designed a study to establish that distinction between a trip up the stairs and Post Traumatic Stress. The formal American Psychiatric Association (APA) definition for PTSD is “a history of exposure to a traumatic event meeting two criteria and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms” (APA, 2000). In other words, a mental roadblock.

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