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Remembering the Facts of Life Tags: facts life classic television word life production new quality entertainment

The Facts of Life is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from August 24, 1979, to May 7, 1988, making it one of the longest-running sitcoms of the 1980s. A spin-off of the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, the series focuses on Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) as she becomes a housemother (and after the second season, a dietitian as well) at the fictional Eastland School, an all-female boarding school in Peekskill, New York.

A spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, the series featured the Drummonds' housekeeper, Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) as the housemother of a dormitory at Eastland School, a private all-girls school. The girls in her care included spoiled rich girl Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel); the youngest, gossipy Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey (Kim Fields); and impressionable Natalie Green (Mindy Cohn).

The pilot for the show originally aired as the last episode of Diff'rent Strokes' first season and was called "The Girls' School (aka Garrett's Girls)." The plotline for the pilot had Kimberly Drummond (Dana Plato) requesting that Mrs. Garrett help her sew costumes for a student play at East Lake School for Girls, the school Kimberly attended in upstate New York, as her dorm's housemother had recently quit. Mrs. Garrett agrees to help, puts on a successful play, and also solves a problem for Nancy. Mrs. Garrett is asked to stay on as the new housemother but states she would rather remain working for the Drummonds at the end of the pilot.

Following the pilot, the name of the school was changed to Eastland and characters were replaced, with Natalie, Cindy (Julie Anne Haddock), and Mr. Bradley becoming part of the main group featured. Although Kimberly Drummond is featured as a student at East Lake, her character did not cross over to the spinoff series with Mrs. Garrett.

In the show's first season, episodes focus on the troubles of seven girls, with the action usually set in a large, wood-paneled common room of a girls' dormitory. Also appearing was the school's headmaster, Mr. Steven Bradley (John Lawlor), and Ms. Emily Mahoney (Jenny O'Hara), an Eastland teacher who was dropped after the first four episodes. Early episodes of the show typically revolve around a central morality-based or "lesson teaching" theme. The show's pilot episode plot included a story line in which Blair Warner insinuates that her schoolmate Cindy Webster is a lesbian because she is a tomboy and frequently shows affection for other girls. Other season-one episodes deal with issues including drug use, sex, eating disorders, parental relationships, and peer pressure.

The producers felt that there were too many characters given the limitations of the half-hour sitcom format, and that the plotlines should be more focused to give the remaining girls more room for character development. Four of the original actresses—Julie Anne Haddock (Cindy), Julie Piekarski (Sue Ann), Felice Schachter (Nancy), and Molly Ringwald (Molly)—were written out of the show (although the four did make periodic guest appearances in the second and third seasons, and all but Molly Ringwald appeared in one "reunion" episode in the eighth season). Mr. Bradley's character was also dropped and replaced with a generally unseen headmaster named Mr. Harris. (Mr. Harris actually appeared in an early second season episode, "Gossip", played by Kenneth Mars) and Mr. Parker for the rest of the series. In addition to being housemother to the remaining girls, Mrs. Garrett became the school dietitian as the second season began. Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon), a new student originally from the Bronx, arrived at Eastland on scholarship. A run-in with the law forced the four to be separated from the other girls and work in the cafeteria, living together in a spare room next to Mrs. Garrett's bedroom.

The season two premiere of the retooled series saw an immediate ratings increase. By its third season (1981–82), Facts of Life had become NBC's #1 comedy and #2 overall NBC program, beating out its predecessor, Diff'rent Strokes, for the first time.

In September 1985, NBC moved the 7th season of the series to its burgeoning Saturday night lineup at 8:30 PM, as a lead-in for the new series The Golden Girls at 9 PM. In an attempt to refresh the "ratings work horse" and increase ratings, Mrs. Garrett's store was gutted by fire in the season seven premiere "Out of the Fire". The follow-up episodes "Into the Frying Pan" and "Grand Opening" had the girls band together to rebuild the store with a pop culture-influenced gift shop, called Over Our Heads. The changes proved successful as all 3 episodes placed in the top 10 ratings each week. By the end of the season, TV Guide reported, "Facts' success has been so unexpected that scions of Hollywood are still taken aback by it. ... Facts has in fact been among NBC's top-ranked comedies for the past five years. It finished twenty-third overall for the 1985–1986 season, handily winning its time slot against its most frequent competitors, Airwolf and Benson. Lisa Whelchel stated, 'We're easily overlooked because we've never been a huge hit; we just sort of snuck in there.'"

Charlotte Rae initially reduced her role in seasons six and seven, and later decided to leave the series altogether. In season eight's heavily promoted one-hour premiere, "Out of Peekskill" Mrs. Garrett married the man of her dreams and joined him in Africa while he worked for the Peace Corps. Mrs. Garrett convinces her sister, Beverly Ann Stickle (Cloris Leachman), to take over the shop and look after the girls. Beverly Ann later legally adopted Over Our Heads worker Andy Moffett (Mackenzie Astin) in the episode "A Boy About the House". Describing the new changes to The Facts of Life Brandon Tartikoff, NBC Entertainment President, said he "was surprised that The Facts of Life performed well this season, as, with a major cast change and all, I thought it might not perform as it had in the past. Facts has been renewed for next season."

In the ninth and final season, the series aired on NBC's Saturday night lineup at 8 p.m. NBC still had confidence in the series, making it the 8 PM anchor, kicking off the network's second-highest rated night (next to Thursdays). For February sweeps, the writers created a storyline in this season for the episode titled "The First Time", in which Natalie became the first of the girls to lose her virginity. Lisa Whelchel refused this particular storyline that would have made her character, not Natalie, the first among the four young women in the show to lose her virginity. Having become a Christian when she was 10, Whelchel refused because of her Christian convictions. Whelchel appeared in every episode, but asked to be written out of "The First Time". The episode ran a parental advisory before starting, and placed 22nd in the ratings for the week.

Still strong in its timeslot, NBC wanted to renew The Facts of Life for a 10th season, but two of the girls (Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon) decided that season 9 should be the end.

In an article titled "Ratings Top with Teens" appearing in the January 19, 1988 edition of USA Today, The Facts of Life was ranked as one of the top 10 shows in a survey of 2,200 American teenagers.

Source: Wikipedia

This month's celebrity pick is the awesome actress Tracee Ellis Ross
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: tracee ellis ross celebrity pick word life production new quality entertainment

The daughter of Diana Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross was born in Los Angeles in October 1972. After college, Ross worked in the magazine industry, which led her to modeling and subsequently acting. She got her first big acting break with a role on the TV series Girlfriends, which ran from 2000 until 2008. After appearing on several other shows and in movies, in 2014 Ross landed another starring role in the series Black-ish. The show has been a success and weekly showcase for the actress's talents.

Early Years

Tracee Ellis Ross was born on October 29, 1972, in Los Angeles, California, to legendary Motown singer Diana Ross and music manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. She attended Brown University (where she was friends with singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik) and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 1994.

After graduation, Ross began working in the fashion industry as an editor for magazines such as Mirabella and New York, and the exposure to the industry helped her segue into modeling. Ross was featured in many magazines, landing on the cover of Essence and Jet, among others, and posing for such luminaries as Herb Ritts and Francesco Scavullo.

Early Acting Roles and ‘Girlfriends’

Ross soon made a transition into acting, and the late 1990s saw her land roles in a string of movies, including Far Harbor (1996, her debut), Sue (1997) and A Fare to Remember (1999). She also took on hosting duties of the Lifetime talk show The Dish for a year (1997) and appeared in a few more movies at the turn of the century, including Hanging Up and In the Weeds, both in 2000.

That would also be the year Ross caught her big break and got a real taste of success, snagging the part of Joan Clayton on the TV series Girlfriends. The sitcom was a success, and the weekly exposure helped Ross get more movie parts. But TV would become her focus, and Girlfriends kept her busy for nearly the entire decade across more than 170 episodes.

Besides being a ratings hit and launch pad for Ross’s career, Girlfriends brought a slew of critical attention to the actress's doorstep in the form of seven NAACP Image Award nominations and two wins (2007 and 2009, both for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series) and a BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (2005). In the midst of Girlfriends’s long run, Ross managed to squeeze in some film work as well, including Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls (2007), with Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union, and Labor Pains, featuring Lindsay Lohan (2011).

Hit Show 'Black-ish'

After Girlfriends came to an end in 2008, Ross worked on other series, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, appearing in a handful of episodes, and BET’s Reed Between the Lines, on which she starred opposite Malcolm Jamal Warner in 2011.

In 2014, Ross began a new gig as one of the stars of the ABC prime time comedy Black-ish, which became a hit and gave her yet another high-profile role. In the show she plays successful physician Dr. Rainbow Johnson opposite Anthony Anderson, who plays her husband "Dre." The two are parents of four children in an upper-class African-American family. Laurence Fishburne also stars in the series as Ross's father-in-law.

Additional Projects

Multidimensional, Ross has kept busy in other venues when not working on her series. She appeared in the 2011 short film anthology Five on Lifetime, a project which focused on breast cancer awareness, and in New York and Los Angeles stage productions of Love, Loss, and What I Wore; co-hosted Black Girls Rock, a BET awards show, in 2013; and was featured in two Kanye West videos: The New Workout Plan (2004) and Touch the Sky (2006).

Ross has also entered the motivational speaker realm, teaching a workshop called “Tapping Into Your Creative Well,” and is active with Aviva Family and Children Services in Los Angeles and the national program Big Brother Big Sister. For her efforts, Ross has been honored by the Los Angeles Urban League as Volunteer of the Year.

Source: Biography.com

Timeless Classic that just got better - Annie (2014 film) Tags: annie 2014 Jamie Foxx Quvenzhané Wallis Rose byrne Bobby Cannavale Cameron Diaz

Annie is a 2014 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Will Gluck and produced by Village Roadshow Pictures and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment for Sony Pictures' Columbia Pictures. A contemporary adaptation of the 1977 Broadway musical of the same name, which was in turn based upon the 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, the film stars Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role and Jamie Foxx in the role of Will Stacks, an update of Daddy Warbucks. The film co-stars Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz.

The third film adaptation following Columbia's 1982 theatrical film and Disney's 1999 made-for-television film, Annie began production in August 2013 and opened on December 19, 2014amidst a scandal over accusations of government hacking in North Korea. The film received generally negative reviews.

In Harlem, a class of young children are doing presentations on former presidents. 10-year-old Annie Bennett (Quvenzhane Wallis) does her report on Franklin D. Roosevelt as a performance piece, and she gets her classmates to join her in by stomping their feet and making noises.

Annie visits a restaurant called "Lou's" where she waits for her parents to show up and finally reclaim her. They never come. Annie gets back to her foster home and rejoins her foster sisters - Isabella, Tessie, Mia, and Pepper. They're looked over by the mean Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), who used to be a performer and is now miserable for having to take care of the girls. The girls lament not being adopted ("Maybe").

Hannigan wakes the girls up early on Saturday to make them clean their house as an inspector from Social Services is set to arrive ("It's The Hard Knock Life"). The inspector visits, and Hannigan flirts with him. After he leaves, the girls notice that he dropped a document containing their records. Annie takes it and seizes the opportunity to seek out her real parents. Annie stops by Lou's to do some work to get the money needed to get the documents.

Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a cell phone mogul and owner of "Stacks Mobile" is running for mayor. He is supported by his adviser Guy (Bobby Cannavale), his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne), and bodyguard Nash (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje). Will is a germaphobe and not very popular with voters compared to the current favorite Harold Gray (Peter Van Wagner). Will goes to feed the homeless and tries to eat the mashed potatoes to show how much he cares, only for him to spit it out in the face of a homeless man.

Annie is unable to learn anything about her parents since she's not in the system. She walks home depressed ("Tomorrow"). She sees two boys annoying a dog. Annie runs, yelling at them to stop. Will saves Annie from being hit by a vehicle.

A video of Will's heroic act hits the web, and he moves up several points. Guy suggests to him that he find Annie and use her to make himself look good for the public. Will sends Grace to get Annie.

Will offers Annie his place for a temporary stay. She knows there's a catch, and he admits the plan. She jokes that he could be president if she moved in. The adults get somebody to approve the temporary guardianship for Will. Annie then takes a tour around the place and is impressed with everything ("I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here").

Will sets the plan in motion by allowing Annie out to do whatever she wants. They adopt the dog from the streets (to Will's dismay), and Annie names it Sandy. He later takes Annie and the foster girls to the premiere of a movie called MoonQuake Lake'. The girls are taken back to the foster home, and Hannigan orders them to take back all the nice things they got. She once again bemoans her current position in life ("Little Girls"). Gray gets endorsed by Michael J. Fox, leading Will to get a bit desperate. He decides to take Annie on a ride over the city in his chopper ("The City's Yours").

Annie joins Will, Grace and Guy at the Guggenheim Museum for a Stacks Mobile event called "A Night at The Museum". Will invites Annie up on stage for the people to see her in her red dress. She sings "Opportunity", and the orchestra joins in. After the performance, Guy tells Annie to read a speech that he wrote. Annie is quiet and leaves the stage upset. Will and Grace run after her, and Annie admits that she doesn't know how to read. Will says he will get her a tutor.

Guy devises a plan to get fake parents for Annie to get her off Will's hands. Guy teams up with Hannigan to set their scheme in motion ("Easy Street"), because, if Will looks heroic and reunites Annie with her parents, Guy gets a nice reward. Hannigan later auditions a bunch of actors to play the part, but is not pleased with any of them.

While the film incorporates notable songs from the original Broadway production, written by composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin, the songs themselves were rearranged by Sia and Greg Kurstin to reflect its new contemporary setting. Executive music supervisor Matt Sullivan explained that there was a desire to make the film's use of music "seamless" rather than "abrupt", and to maintain the integrity and familiarity of the musical's most iconic songs, including "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life". The songs were rearranged with a percussive, pop-inspired style: in particular, "It's the Hard Knock Life"—whilst maintaining the use of "natural" sounds for its rhythm, was updated in a hip hop style. Lyrics to some songs were also updated to reflect the differences in the film's storyline and settings. Sia and Kurstin wrote three new songs for the soundtrack, including "Opportunity", "Who Am I", and "Moonquake Lake". Sia additionally co-wrote "The City's Yours" with Stargate.

Sony first announced the remake in January 2011, with Jay-Z and Will Smith serving as producers and Smith's daughter Willow, attached to play the lead role. In February 2011, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy became front-runner to direct the film, but by March, he had declined.

The production soon began seeking a screenwriter, with actress Emma Thompson being considered. No developments arrived until May 2012, when Will Smith appeared on Good Morning America and provided updates, including that the film would be set in modern-day New York City, that Thompson was providing a script, and that Jay-Z would also provide newly written songs for the film. In July 2012, We Bought a Zoo screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna wrote a second draft of the script. In August, it was announced production was to begin in Spring 2013.

In January 2013, Easy A director Will Gluck was hired to direct, but Willow Smith had dropped out.

By February 2013, Beasts of the Southern Wild star and Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis had replaced Smith in the lead role, and the film had scheduled a Christmas 2014 release.

In March 2013, the search for the rest of the cast continued, with Justin Timberlake rumored for the role of Daddy Warbucks. This was proven false when Jamie Foxx signed on for the role, now named Will Stacks. In June 2013, Cameron Diaz was cast as Miss Hannigan, after Sandra Bullock declined.

In July 2013, Rose Byrne joined the cast as Grace Farrell, Stacks's faithful assistant and in August, Boardwalk Empire star Bobby Cannavale joined the cast as a "bulldog political adviser" to Will Stacks. In September, the rest of the cast was announced with Amanda Troya, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, and Zoe Colletti as Annie's foster sisters.

As of September 19, 2013, principal photography had begun. Shooting was done at Grumman Studios. Other scenes were filmed at the new Four World Trade Center.

While "rooted in the same story" according to Gluck, the 2014 film adaptation is a contemporary take on the 1977 Broadway musical and contains some differences from the original: The setting was changed from the 1930's—the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency and the Great Depression, to present-day New York City. The opening school scene features class presentations by both the new Annie, and a student representing her classic appearance, discussing aspects of and parallels between the economic states of the two settings, such as the New Deal and the modern lower class.

The character of Oliver Warbucks was modified to create William Stacks, an entrepreneur in the technology sector (particularly, the mobile phone industry) turned politician, who is trying to run for Mayor of New York City. Annie also no longer lives in an orphanage, but is kept in foster care.

The film officially premiered at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on December 7, 2014.

On November 27, 2014, Annie was one of several films leaked by the "Guardians of Peace", a group that the FBI believes has ties to North Korea, following its breach of Columbia's parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment. Within three days of the initial leak, Annie had been downloaded by an estimated 206,000 unique IPs. By December 9, the count had risen to over 316,000. The chief analyst at BoxOffice.com felt that despite this, the leak was unlikely to affect Annie 's box office performance.

Annie opened on December 19, 2014 and earned $5,289,149 on its opening day. In the first weekend, the film made $15,861,939, ranking third in the domestic box office behind other new releases The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. As of December 28, the film has grossed $45,835,000 in North America and $1,236,337 overseas for a worldwide total of $47,071,337.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 29% approval rating, based on 115 reviews, with an average score of 4.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "The new-look Annie hints at a progressive take on a well-worn story, but smothers its likable cast under clichés, cloying cuteness, and a distasteful materialism." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 33 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

Entertainment Weekly described its soundtrack as an autotuned "disaster", noting that "you won't ever hear a worse rendition of 'Easy Street' than the one performed by Diaz and Cannivale—I promise.", and concluding that "aside from an unintentional homage to Zoolander that is so tone-deaf it'll make you guffaw, Annie goes out of its way to make viewing it a hard-knock life for us."

PopMatters magazine rated Annie 3 out of 10, saying "In its aggravatingly choreographed frenzy, the party scene epitomizes Annie, its trying too hard both to be and not be the previous Annies, its trying too little to be innovative or vaguely inspired. It’s as crass as Miss Hannigan and as greedy as Stacks, at least until they learn their lessons. The movie doesn’t appear to learn a thing."

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave Annie one-and-a-half stars, describing the adaptation as being "wobbly" and "unsatisfying", criticizing the commercialized nature of the plot changes, concluding that it was "finesse-free and perilously low on the simple performance pleasures we look for in any musical, of any period."

IGN.com praised Wallis and Foxx for being "on-point" throughout much of the film, but still felt that Annie was "miscast in a few places, overlong, and filled with unnecessary meta jokes (including one ill-timed Kim Jong-il jab) and social media 'upgrades.'", and that Diaz's performance was "terminally terrible", "making the film instantly un-fun whenever she's onscreen.

Source: Wikipedia

Check out this month's celebrity pick - Viola Davis
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: viola davis celebrity pick word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Viola Davis has earned raves for such films as Doubt and The Help, and for such Broadway plays as King Hedley II and Fences.

Born in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in Rhode Island, where she began acting—first in high school, and then at Rhode Island College. After attending the Juilliard School of Performing Arts, Davis soon made her Broadway debut in 1996. She won her first Tony Award in 2001, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for Doubt. In 2011, Davis starred in the hit dramatic film The Help. She has also appeared in Ender's Game (2013) and Get on Up (2014). In 2014, Davis returned to television in the mystery series How to Get Away with Murder.

Growing up poor in Rhode Island, Viola Davis found an oasis from her family's financial woes in watching movies. Her father worked at racetracks, often as a horse groomer. She discovered a love of acting early in high school. At Rhode Island College, Davis earned her degree in theater in 1988. From there, she soon continued her studies at the famed Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York City.

Before long, Davis began to establish a name for herself in the New York theater world. She made her Broadway debut in August Wilson's tragic comedy Seven Guitars in 1996. In the play, Davis starred as Vera, a woman who takes back the boyfriend who wronged her. She again worked with Wilson on his 2001 drama King Hedley II, for which she won her first Tony Award.

On the small screen, Davis tried her hand at series television with the medical drama City of Angeles, in 2000. She also made several guest appearances on other shows as well; one of her most notable performances was as a serial killer on Law & Order. It is one of her favorite roles, despite some negative reactions in the African-American community. "I've had backlash playing a serial killer ... Anthony Hopkins didn't, but I did. I have to follow my heart at the end of the day," she later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

After a few feature film parts, Davis caught the attention of critics with her small role in 2002's Antwone Fisher. She made the most out of her one scene in the film, in which she barely speaks. Her turn as the mother of a troubled navy sailor (Derek Luke) brought her critical praise and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

In 2008, Davis' career reached new heights with her nuanced performance in Doubt. She, once again, made a tremendous impression with a small supporting role, and showed she could hold her own against some of Hollywood's greatest talents. In the film, Davis played the mother of a boy who may have been sexually assaulted by a priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) at his Catholic school. She delivered an especially strong performance, as her character clashes with the school's principal (Meryl Streep) over her son and the alleged crime. For her work, Davis received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Returning to the stage, Davis gave another show-stopping performance in Fences in 2010. She co-starred with Denzel Washington in this revival of the August Wilson play, playing the wife in a long-married couple whose relationship is falling apart. The pair had great chemistry together, creating a believable and compelling portrait of a struggling marriage undone by infidelity. Both Davis and Washington won Tony Awards for their work on the production.

In 2011, Davis co-starred with Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard in the film adaptation of the best-selling book The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This 1960s drama shows the racial divide between white housewives and their African-American servants in a Southern town.

In the film, Davis plays Ailbileen, a maid who is interviewed by a young white writer named Skeeter -for a book about the lives of "the help." The experiences of her character are familiar to Davis. "The women in this story were like my mother, my grandmother," she explained to Variety. "Women born and raised in the Deep South, working in tobacco and cotton fields, taking care of their kids and other people's kids, cleaning homes."

Davis worked with the director and screenwriter Tate Taylor to refine her character, making sure that her responses and actions were believable. Because racial tensions were so high during the time that the film is set in, she believed her character would have been afraid of saying too much to anyone. Davis played Aibileen with great restraint and won extensive praise for her work on the film.

As an African-American actress, Davis continues to look for more meaningful roles and perhaps start up some projects of her own. "It is a time when Black women now have no choice but to take matters in their own hands and create images for ourselves ... It's up to us to look for the material, it's up to us to produce it ourselves, it's up to us to choose the stories."

Over the next few years, Davis took on some interesting parts. She appeared in the 2013 science fiction movie Ender's Game and played singer James Brown's mother in the 2014 biopic Get on Up. Davis then tackled an important television role. She stars in How to Get Away with Murder as Professor Annalise Keating. The mystery drama series is the brainchild of Shonda Rhimes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal fame. 

Source: Biography.com

What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Tags: post traumatic stree disorder living under extreme pressure word life production health mental wellness

When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

Causes

Genes. Currently, many scientists are focusing on genes that play a role in creating fear memories. Understanding how fear memories are created may help to refine or find new interventions for reducing the symptoms of PTSD. For example, PTSD researchers have pinpointed genes that make:

Stathmin, a protein needed to form fear memories. In one study, mice that did not make stathmin were less likely than normal mice to “freeze,” a natural, protective response to danger, after being exposed to a fearful experience. They also showed less innate fear by exploring open spaces more willingly than normal mice.

GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide), a signaling chemical in the brain released during emotional events. In mice, GRP seems to help control the fear response, and lack of GRP may lead to the creation of greater and more lasting memories of fear.

Researchers have also found a version of the 5-HTTLPR gene, which controls levels of serotonin — a brain chemical related to mood-that appears to fuel the fear response. Like other mental disorders, it is likely that many genes with small effects are at work in PTSD.

Brain Areas. Studying parts of the brain involved in dealing with fear and stress also helps researchers to better understand possible causes of PTSD. One such brain structure is the amygdala, known for its role in emotion, learning, and memory. The amygdala appears to be active in fear acquisition, or learning to fear an event (such as touching a hot stove), as well as in the early stages of fear extinction, or learning not to fear.

Storing extinction memories and dampening the original fear response appears to involve the prefrontal cortex (PFC) area of the brain, involved in tasks such as decision-making, problem-solving, and judgment. Certain areas of the PFC play slightly different roles. For example, when it deems a source of stress controllable, the medial PFC suppresses the amygdala an alarm center deep in the brainstem and controls the stress response.5The ventromedial PFC helps sustain long-term extinction of fearful memories, and the size of this brain area may affect its ability to do so.

Individual differences in these genes or brain areas may only set the stage for PTSD without actually causing symptoms. Environmental factors, such as childhood trauma, head injury, or a history of mental illness, may further increase a person's risk by affecting the early growth of the brain. Also, personality and cognitive factors, such as optimism and the tendency to view challenges in a positive or negative way, as well as social factors, such as the availability and use of social support, appear to influence how people adjust to trauma. More research may show what combinations of these or perhaps other factors could be used someday to predict who will develop PTSD following a traumatic event.

The Next Steps for PTSD Research

In the last decade, rapid progress in research on the mental and biological foundations of PTSD has lead scientists to focus on prevention as a realistic and important goal.

For example, NIMH-funded researchers are exploring new and orphan medications thought to target underlying causes of PTSD in an effort to prevent the disorder. Other research is attempting to enhance cognitive, personality, and social protective factors and to minimize risk factors to ward off full-blown PTSD after trauma. Still other research is attempting to identify what factors determine whether someone with PTSD will respond well to one type of intervention or another, aiming to develop more personalized, effective and efficient treatments.

As gene research and brain imaging technologies continue to improve, scientists are more likely to be able to pinpoint when and where in the brain PTSD begins. This understanding may then lead to better targeted treatments to suit each person's own needs or even prevent the disorder before it causes harm.

Signs & Symptoms

PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.

Do children react differently than adults?

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children, these symptoms can include:

  • Bedwetting, when they’d learned how to use the toilet before
  • Forgetting how or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult.

Older children and teens usually show symptoms more like those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge. For more information, see the NIMH booklets on helping children cope with violence and disasters. (from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) )

Who Is At Risk?

PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families.

Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events.

Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.

Why do some people get PTSD and other people do not?

It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event gets PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder.

Many factors play a part in whether a person will get PTSD. Some of these are risk factors that make a person more likely to get PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder. Some of these risk and resilience factors are present before the trauma and others become important during and after a traumatic event.

Risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Having a history of mental illness
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing people hurt or killed
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home.

Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:

  • Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
  • Finding a support group after a traumatic event
  • Feeling good about one’s own actions in the face of danger
  • Having a coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
  • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear.

Researchers are studying the importance of various risk and resilience factors. With more study, it may be possible someday to predict who is likely to get PTSD and prevent it.

Diagnosis

Not every traumatized person develops full-blown or even minor PTSD. Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the incident but occasionally emerge years afterward. They must last more than a month to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.

A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD. The diagnosis is made after the doctor talks with the person who has symptoms of PTSD.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have all of the following for at least 1 month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least three avoidance symptoms
  • At least two hyperarousal symptoms

Symptoms that make it hard to go about daily life, go to school or work, be with friends, and take care of important tasks.

PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or one or more of the other anxiety disorders.

Treatments

The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.

If someone with PTSD is going through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship, both of the problems need to be treated. Other ongoing problems can include panic disorder, depression, substance abuse, and feeling suicidal.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is “talk” therapy. It involves talking with a mental health professional to treat a mental illness. Psychotherapy can occur one-on-one or in a group. Talk therapy treatment for PTSD usually lasts 6 to 12 weeks, but can take more time. Research shows that support from family and friends can be an important part of therapy.

Many types of psychotherapy can help people with PTSD. Some types target the symptoms of PTSD directly. Other therapies focus on social, family, or job-related problems. The doctor or therapist may combine different therapies depending on each person’s needs.

One helpful therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. There are several parts to CBT, including:

  • Exposure therapy. This therapy helps people face and control their fear. It exposes them to the trauma they experienced in a safe way. It uses mental imagery, writing, or visits to the place where the event happened. The therapist uses these tools to help people with PTSD cope with their feelings.
  • Cognitive restructuring. This therapy helps people make sense of the bad memories. Sometimes people remember the event differently than how it happened. They may feel guilt or shame about what is not their fault. The therapist helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way.
  • Stress inoculation training. This therapy tries to reduce PTSD symptoms by teaching a person how to reduce anxiety. Like cognitive restructuring, this treatment helps people look at their memories in a healthy way.

Other types of treatment can also help people with PTSD. People with PTSD should talk about all treatment options with their therapist.

How Talk Therapies Help People Overcome PTSD

Talk therapies teach people helpful ways to react to frightening events that trigger their PTSD symptoms. Based on this general goal, different types of therapy may:

  • Teach about trauma and its effects.
  • Use relaxation and anger control skills.
  • Provide tips for better sleep, diet, and exercise habits.
  • Help people identify and deal with guilt, shame, and other feelings about the event.
  • Focus on changing how people react to their PTSD symptoms. For example, therapy helps people visit places and people that are reminders of the trauma.

Medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications for treating adults with PTSD:

  • sertraline (Zoloft)
  • paroxetine (Paxil)

Both of these medications are antidepressants, which are also used to treat depression. They may help control PTSD symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside. Taking these medications may make it easier to go through psychotherapy.

Sometimes people taking these medications have side effects. The effects can be annoying, but they usually go away. However, medications affect everyone differently. Any side effects or unusual reactions should be reported to a doctor immediately.

The most common side effects of antidepressants like sertraline and paroxetine are:

  • Headache, which usually goes away within a few days.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days.
  • Sleeplessness or drowsiness, which may occur during the first few weeks but then goes away.
  • Agitation (feeling jittery).
  • Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women, including reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex.

Sometimes the medication dose needs to be reduced or the time of day it is taken needs to be adjusted to help lessen these side effects.

FDA Warning on Antidepressants

Despite the relative safety and popularity of SSRIs and other antidepressants, some studies have suggested that they may have unintentional effects on some people, especially adolescents and young adults. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a thorough review of published and unpublished controlled clinical trials of antidepressants that involved nearly 4,400 children and adolescents. The review revealed that 4 percent of those taking antidepressants thought about or attempted suicide (although no suicides occurred), compared to 2 percent of those receiving placebos.

This information prompted the FDA, in 2005, to adopt a “black box” warning label on all antidepressant medications to alert the public about the potential increased risk of suicidal thinking or attempts in children and adolescents taking antidepressants. In 2007, the FDA proposed that makers of all antidepressant medications extend the warning to include young adults up through age 24. A “black box” warning is the most serious type of warning on prescription drug labeling.

The warning emphasizes that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be closely monitored, especially during the initial weeks of treatment. Possible side effects to look for are worsening depression, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as sleeplessness, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations. The warning adds that families and caregivers should also be told of the need for close monitoring and report any changes to the physician. The latest information can be found on the FDA website.

Results of a comprehensive review of pediatric trials conducted between 1988 and 2006 suggested that the benefits of antidepressant medications likely outweigh their risks to children and adolescents with major depression and anxiety disorders. The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Other Medications

Doctors may also prescribe other types of medications, such as the ones listed below. There is little information on how well these work for people with PTSD.

  1. Benzodiazepines. These medications may be given to help people relax and sleep. People who take benzodiazepines may have memory problems or become dependent on the medication.
  2. Antipsychotics. These medications are usually given to people with other mental disorders, like schizophrenia. People who take antipsychotics may gain weight and have a higher chance of getting heart disease and diabetes.
  3. Other antidepressants. Like sertraline and paroxetine, the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa) can help people with PTSD feel less tense or sad. For people with PTSD who also have other anxiety disorders or depression, antidepressants may be useful in reducing symptoms of these co-occurring illnesses.

Treatment After Mass Trauma

Sometimes large numbers of people are affected by the same event. For example, a lot of people needed help after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Most people will have some PTSD symptoms in the first few weeks after events like these. This is a normal and expected response to serious trauma, and for most people, symptoms generally lessen with time. Most people can be helped with basic support, such as:

  • Getting to a safe place
  • Seeing a doctor if injured
  • Getting food and water
  • Contacting loved ones or friends
  • Learning what is being done to help.

But some people do not get better on their own. A study of Hurricane Katrina survivors found that, over time, more people were having problems with PTSD, depression, and related mental disorders. This pattern is unlike the recovery from other natural disasters, where the number of people who have mental health problems gradually lessens. As communities try to rebuild after a mass trauma, people may experience ongoing stress from loss of jobs and schools, and trouble paying bills, finding housing, and getting health care. This delay in community recovery may in turn delay recovery from PTSD.

In the first couple weeks after a mass trauma, brief versions of CBT may be helpful to some people who are having severe distress. Sometimes other treatments are used, but their effectiveness is not known. For example, there is growing interest in an approach called psychological first aid. The goal of this approach is to make people feel safe and secure, connect people to health care and other resources, and reduce stress reactions. There are guides for carrying out the treatment, but experts do not know yet if it helps prevent or treat PTSD.

In single-session psychological debriefing, another type of mass trauma treatment, survivors talk about the event and express their feelings one-on-one or in a group. Studies show that it is not likely to reduce distress or the risk for PTSD, and may actually increase distress and risk.

Mass Trauma Affects Hospitals and Other Providers

Hospitals, health care systems, and health care providers are also affected by a mass trauma. The number of people who need immediate physical and psychological help may be too much for health systems to handle. Some patients may not find help when they need it because hospitals do not have enough staff or supplies. In some cases, health care providers themselves may be struggling to recover as well.

NIMH scientists are working on this problem. For example, researchers are testing how to give CBT and other treatments using the phone and the Internet. In one study, people with PTSD met with a therapist to learn about the disorder, made a list of things that trigger their symptoms, and learned basic ways to reduce stress. After this meeting, the participants could visit a website with more information about PTSD. Participants could keep a log of their symptoms and practice coping skills. Overall, the researchers found the Internet-based treatment helped reduce symptoms of PTSD and depression. These effects lasted after treatment ended.

Researchers will carry out more studies to find out if other such approaches to therapy can be helpful after mass trauma.

Living With

“I was raped when I was 25 years old. For a long time, I spoke about the rape as though it was something that happened to someone else. I was very aware that it had happened to me, but there was just no feeling.”

“Then I started having flashbacks. They kind of came over me like a splash of water. I would be terrified. Suddenly I was reliving the rape. Every instant was startling. I wasn’t aware of anything around me, I was in a bubble, just kind of floating. And it was scary. Having a flashback can wring you out.”

“The rape happened the week before Thanksgiving, and I can’t believe the anxiety and fear I feel every year around the anniversary date. It’s as though I’ve seen a werewolf. I can’t relax, can’t sleep, don’t want to be with anyone. I wonder whether I’ll ever be free of this terrible problem.”

Clinical Trials

NIMH supports research studies on mental health and disorders. See also: A Participant's Guide to Mental Health Clinical Research.

Participate, refer a patient or learn about results of studies in ClinicalTrials.gov , the NIH/National Library of Medicine's registry of federally and privately funded clinical trials for all disease.

Find NIH-funded studies currently recruiting participants with PTSD. 

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

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