Category: Definition Essay
Trauma Nursing

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PSD) is experienced by a major part of people at some point in their life. In difficult life situations, be it personal pain, an injury, or death of a close person, people go through an emotional distress. The trauma of being physically and mentally hurt, losing a person, or being extremely worried for their life and health will cause physical and psychological hardships for people who are diagnosed with the stress disorder. As a result, nurses play an important role in counseling and treating patients who are in such condition. One of the primary objectives for nurses is to differentiate between different types of PSD, find the right path for the treatment, and adjust themselves and the patient to the process.

Types of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Nurses Response


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This is the very first state of the feeling when a close person is gone. This can either be a family member or a friend, or a person who was loved and respected, any person there was a personal connection with. In this state a person is feeling the loss due to being deprived of the loved ones company he/she enjoyed and will now miss. In case of a personal trauma, where a person was hurt or assaulted in any way, they will feel emotional pain towards their own self-respect, health, and future life after the incident.

The nurse must respond according to the variations in the usage of terms and definitions in explaining the situation to the patient. The objectives of the evaluation itself are not as clear as they could be, because a nurse must understand the relation a person has towards the incident. As this is the primary period, the first month is the most intense, so the nurse will address the immediate factors such as fear, anger, guilt, and inability to believe or cope with the trauma.

Uncomplicated Bereavement

This type of feelings is as a rule sudden and might be periodic, so a patient will come to the hospital in a rush. A person might feel fine, but then suddenly, they will break down in a neurotic collapse. It is accompanied by loss of appetite, crying, closing in the self, feeling angry and depressed, and not wanting to share own feelings with other people, no matter how close.

This makes communication difficult for nurses, because the patient is closed. Even though there has been significant support, sometimes there is still a lack of resources to produce effective and specific evaluation of the patient. The responses are affected by education, family, and work while others are inborn, genetic, or caused by physical events. The nurse must address the most immediate emotional response and focus on the direct response.


Grief is generally defined as a more prolonged hardship due to the loss of a loved one by death. The period of grief has no expiry date and may last for undetermined amount of time. It is very hard to overcome.

Here, the difficulty in determining the cognitive-psychiatric reasons of why people are struck with such feelings and responses are analyzed. However, the amount of issues and causes is very large, so there is difficulty in the specific determinants. The longer the period, the more a person has to think about it. Therefore, nurses must determine their exact understanding and focus on the trauma.

Complicated Trauma

Complicated trauma makes it impossible for any person to accept demise of their loved ones or traumatic events in personal life which will be irreversible. It is a lasting and harsh state, and an individual has to look for therapy, because they find it impossible to deal with the misery themselves. There is a number of other conditions that accompany this type of grief such as becoming numb to the world around or being extremely angry with oneself and the others.

In this case, post-traumatic stress disorder is examined by how it affects the emotional health of a person. A nurse must have a profound knowledge of the patients psychology and personality in the form of a direct approach to produce long-term observations and check for the development of responses over time or cessation of symptoms.

Prolonged Grief

This type of post-traumatic stress disorder characterizes the longevity of feelings as a person get used to the feeling of being depressed. This causes great disorder in life, and a person ends up being unable to think of anything else except for the trauma.

In this situation, the nurse must consider cognitive rehabilitation and implementation of people with psychological disorders back into society. Some patients have stable conditions while for others, the symptoms fluctuate and often worsen. Future solutions and treatments are offered to better suit the person and their immediate circle of people. The nurse will talk to the patient about people with the closest connection. It would be important to create the link and make them partners in treating the incident.

Traumatic Stress

Traumatic stress is caused by an unexpected event that took away the life of a very close person. It is as a rule treated as something sudden and unfair according to the moral priorities within the society, such as a loss of a child or someone very young.

The tools and methods that are used during the evaluation are key to a successful and precise outcome, but often, the absence or lack of personal information and consensus between a nurse and a patient creates problems. The situational and interpersonal variables change during the interviews and evaluation, so it is difficult to account for. As a result, the nurse will find out personal information about the relationship to the person. If it is a personal trauma, it would be important for medical staff to determine how they understand the incident and their role in it.

Disenfranchised Trauma

This kind of trauma is defined as a feeling of a heartache that is not realized by the large part of the community. This can relate to physical property, pets, previous generations, or moral principles. It is determined by the difficult choices that people have to make according to a very limited set of rules within any society.

As such, another issue for the nurse is the procedure and how the evaluation is conducted since the person is feeling left out as if the society is purposefully excluding him/her. What specifically the patient is feeling will determine the treatment. In case it is guilt, the nurse will have to present facts about the inevitability of events, absence of patients ability to change the course of things, and their conscience being clear of guilt.

Primary and Secondary Loss

This is the physical aspect of losing a loved one. People are used to having their close ones beside them; when such a person passes, there is an black hole in the soul of an individual missing his/her friend or family member. It can be caused by anything, and it does not have to be sudden as in the case of an inborn condition or prolonged illnes.

When a nurse encounters a patient who cannot get used to living without the close person, she must choose the approach of focusing on the behavior. Often, a person having feelings will act them out; by doing this, they will constantly reiterate their own thoughts by seeing themselves responding to their feelings. Therefore, the nurse must target the behavior and prevent the patient from acting it out.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss is a state when an individual with a form of PSD is so hurt that they cannot be present morally. Even though they are functioning to some degree, they are not responsive to their loved ones.

As this is a more serious case, the nurse must determine how severe the condition is. If during the course of treatment the patient shows no improvement, it must be reported to the treating doctor. As a result, the patient will be prescribed medication, and another form of care will be recommended.

Overall, it is very difficult for a nurse to treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, because sometimes, there is a time limitation, or they cannot get into the details. Counseling is often recommended to be administered by the professionals who specialize in the field directly. A nurse must understand the point when a patient becomes unresponsive to their communication, so that it does not block them completely or poses new problems. Often, patients will feel anxiety and shock; thus, the treatment must address these factors as well. These will take a form of counseling with antidepressants or other medication.

Since post-traumatic stress disorder has emotional basis, the nurses must be able to understand what the patient is feeling by placing themselves in their shoes. If a nurse is distant and does not care, the patient will get worse as they will feel alienated and uncared for. As such, it is important for the nurse to be as humane and understanding as possible. There is a certain amount of time that is needed for each situation, so limitations will often determine the most effective course of action.

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