How many people got PTSD during World War II?

History of PTSD: From "War Neurosis" to Trauma Diagnosis

Finally came the "Post Vietnam Syndrome". The term was coined in 1972 by the psychiatrist Chaim Shatan. By this time, quite a few Vietnam veterans had already returned home. Many of them suffered from emotional numbness, volatility, flashbacks, and aggression. Because symptoms are delayed in many sufferers, veterans have struggled to access treatment and health services.

That is why they increasingly sought out self-help groups and combined their healing process with anti-war protests. They met with clinicians and researchers such as Lifton and Shatan, who advocated integrating a kind of post-combat stress diagnosis in the DSM. In 1980, "post-traumatic stress disorder" finally became a formal diagnosis in the third edition of the DSM. Twelve years later, she was also included in the World Health Organization's ICD system.

PTSD: Invisible Wounds

Today's definition of PTSD is broader than ever: the condition is also diagnosed in survivors of sexual abuse or assault, health crises and operations, natural disasters, bereavement, mass murders, accidents and more. Symptoms are extremely diverse, ranging from flashbacks and nightmares to hypervigilance, difficulty concentrating, amnesia, dissociation, and negative views about yourself or others.

Every year, researchers are developing new treatments for PTSD and learning more about how trauma affects the brain and body. They also address the possibility that the consequences of trauma and stress can be carried over from one generation to the next through chemical changes that affect DNA expression. For example, a 2018 study found high mortality rates among the offspring of men who survived the Civil War prison camps in the 1860s.

Scientists are still arguing over an earlier study that suggested the descendants of Holocaust survivors inherited a different balance of stress hormones than their peers.