Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a term that describes a mental health disorder caused, in part, by exposure to one or more traumatic events. This disorder manifests in a Lumber of severe psychological symptoms experienced by those who have been exposed to a lifethreatening experience that has had a traumatic effect on them.
PTSD was first formally identified among Vietnam war veterans, but had been previously detected and labelled with a variety of terms, most often terms associated with warfare, for example “shell shock” found in soldiers of the First World War or “combat fatigue” in the Second World War.
Various measures of PTSD have been devised. Examples of common symptoms measured include recurrent thoughts/memories of terrifying events, trouble sleeping, and inability to feel emotions. PTSD is commonly identified in persons in occupations such as the police and army and as a consequence of experiences such as rape and serious accidents. These are often single traumatic events. Almost everyone who has a traumatic experience will have feelings of shock, grief and adjustment; not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. PTSD should not be confused with the normal response to a disturbing episode.
For victims of trafficking, the traumatic events they experience are often repetitive and prolongad which can sometimes distinguish their reactions from those who have survived a single life-threatening event. For many who have worked with victims of chronic trauma, such as domestic violence victims, this type of repetitive abuse/fear is considered a separate syndrome: complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
The distinction between PTSD and complex post-traumatic stress disorder is important to investigators because it emphasizes that the reaction to ongoing trauma is actually a physiological re-organizing of the individual’s natural responses or instincts that makes them hyper-prepared to respond to stressful events. People-although they can linger and lead to long-term psychiatric conditions in some, and may re-emerge at stress-filled times.
Studies of trafficking victims (particularly for sexual exploitation) have found that victims display many PTSD symptoms. The pattern of a steady decline in symptoms was also found in the trafficking victims, although rates of decline varied between symptoms. Another common feature of PTSD reflected in studies on trafficking in persons was that some victims still have symptoms some time after the trafficking or removal from the site of exploitation.
In the study conducted in Europe, a more significant reduction of symptoms occurred alter the women were in post-trafficking care for approximately 90 days.15
The impact of PTSD on victims of other forms of trafficking has not been extensively documented, but anecdotal information suggests it is found in all types of trafficking. Some types of trafficking (child soldiers for example) carry obvious trauma that may be prolonged and intense which are highly likely to lead to PTSD.