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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder associated with experiencing a serious traumatic event or a series of traumas that involved actual or threatened death, or serious injury or a threat to physical integrity to self or others. e.g. a car crash, an assault (sexual or otherwise), or being involved in war or violence. Symptoms include:

  • Nightmares – re-experiencing the trauma in dreams

  • Flashbacks – recurrent images and thoughts about the trauma. When people with PSTD experience a flashback, they go through much of the original trauma, and experience similar levels of stress, without resolution

  • A general sense of numbness and feeling of lack of involvement with the real world

  • Guilt about having survived (especially if others have not)

  • Sleep disturbance

  • An exaggerated startle response, increased arousal and hypersensitivity, even in the absence of danger

  • Avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event

  • Avoidance of thinking about the event

​​Symptoms usually occur within the first month of the traumatic event but in 15% of cases symptoms appear for months or even years later.  PTSD can have a massive impact on quality of life, and on the ability to form positive relationships, and even parent. It can also impact on one’s physical health, as it can lead people to experience high levels of adrenaline, elevated heart rate, etc. – even in the absence of a threat. This puts the body under strain and can aggravate underlying physical conditions. Moreover, people with untreated PTSD are vulnerable to depressionpanicgeneralised anxiety symptoms and alcohol and drug misuse, often in an attempt to “treat” their symptoms.

How common is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD can develop in any of us at any age following a stressful life event or situation, which has been catastrophic in nature. 30% of people who have experienced a traumatic event will go on to suffer from PTSD. It is more common in children, adolescence and women.

Take the test– Impact of Event Scale (IES-R)

Below is a list of difficulties people sometimes have after stressful life events.
Please read each item, and then indicate how distressing each difficulty has been for you
DURING THE PAST SEVEN DAYS with respect to __________________________________, how much were you distressed or bothered by these difficulties?

If you scored 33 or above you may have symptoms of PTSD and require treatment.

What is the treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends a course of EMDR or trauma focused CBT.

Treatment will involve:

  • Processing the traumatic event so that it can be stored as a memory that no longer intrudes without warning into your day to day experiences and that you have a similar amount of control over as other less distressing memories

  • Identifying and overcoming “avoidance behaviours”

  • Acquiring techniques that can help to keep anxiety levels under control

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