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8 hours $7.98
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20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

1.5 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe the nature and extent of PTSD. Potential causes of the disorder, risk factors associated with PTSD, symptoms and diagnostic criteria for individuals with PTSD, and current treatment options for individuals with PTSD are examined.
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When individuals experience a traumatic, terrifying, life-changing event or series of events, with a real or threatened risk of death, they may experience a variety of symptoms known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although this condition has been described throughout history, veterans groups and health-care providers have been slow to acknowledge its existence or explore the many dimensions of the disorder.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the nature and extent of PTSD.
  • Identify proposed causes of PTSD.
  • Explain risk factors for PTSD.
  • Discuss the symptoms and diagnostic criteria for individuals with PTSD, including the two subtypes of PTSD.
  • Describe current treatment modalities for individuals with PTSD.

When someone is in danger, it is natural and normal to feel afraid. This fear triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing split-second changes in the body to help it prepare against danger or to avoid it. This stress response is a healthy reaction that is meant to protect a person from harm. However, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the body’s reaction is supercharged or damaged, making the person feel stressed or frightened even when there is no danger present (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2016).

In any year, approximately 5.2 to 7.7 million Americans struggle with PTSD. It can occur at any age, and women are more than two-and-a-half times more likely than men to develop PTSD (New York State Office of Mental Health, 2016; NIMH, 2016). An estimated 8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives (Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 2007). There is some evidence that susceptibility may run in families (NIMH, 2016). Globally, an estimated 3.5% of the world’s population has suffered from PTSD in the previous year (World Health Organization, 2013).

An Ancient Malady

PTSD is a new name for a disorder that is thousands of years old. Bentley (2005) provides an exhaustive review of the history of PTSD in his feature article in The VVA Veteran (a publication for Vietnam Veterans). Key events described in the article include the following:

  • Three thousand years ago, Hori, an Egyptian combat veteran, wrote about the fear he was experiencing before going into battle.
  • Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians broke and ran because of their fear of dying when faced with combat circumstances.
  • The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.E. He described an event in which an Athenian warrior became permanently blind when the soldier standing next to him was killed, even though the blind soldier had no physical wounds.
  • During the battle between the English and the Danes in 1003 C.E., the English commander Alfred reportedly became so violently ill that he was not able to lead his men.
  • Swiss military physicians in 1678 were among the first to identify and name a group of behaviors that make up what was known as nostalgia (and are similar to current-day PTSD symptoms).
  • German physicians diagnosed a similar problem in their troops at the same time as the Swiss and called it heimweh (homesickness), believing the symptoms resulted because the soldiers longed to return to their homes.
  • French doctors called the same symptoms maladie du pays (“homesickness”) and the Spanish called these reactions in their soldiers estar roto (“to be broken”).
  • The Russian army of 1905 was the first army in history to recognize that “mental collapse” was a direct result of the stress of war. They regarded it as a legitimate medical condition.
  • During the last stages of World War I, U.S. physicians realized that psychiatric casualties were not “shell shock” but emotions that caused soldiers to collapse with a wide range of symptoms. Many physicians believed that these men were “weak in character.”
  • During World War II, almost 38% of the soldiers who saw direct combat had serious psychiatric issues, and it became clear that it was not just the “weak” in character who were having psychiatric breaks. The term combat fatigue gave way to combat exhaustion.
  • The Korean War resulted in over 24% of the soldiers experiencing “psychiatric casualties” as a result of the trauma of combat.

Between 1959 and 1973, over 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Ongoing psychological distress was common, but veterans had difficulty obtaining disability benefits because there was no accepted psychiatric diagnosis for their emotional and behavioral anguish (Jones, 2005).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Domain of OT

Course Expires:

July 11, 2020

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.