POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
WHAT IS POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem caused by exposure to either a single event, a series of events or prolonged exposure to traumatic events. You do not have to have directly experienced the event, you could be a witness or have been told about it. These events could include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Rape/sexual assault
- An accident
- The sudden death of a loved one
- Being threatened with violence, including domestic violence
- Life-threatening medical diagnosis
After a traumatic event occurs, almost everyone will be in a state of shock and fear. However, everyone experiences these events differently. The initial feelings may fade, but others may emerge, such as anger and helplessness. It may become difficult to process the memories of the event, making it harder to understand what happened and why.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD?
It can take a while for these symptoms to emerge, for some, it can take many years. Every individual will experience symptoms of varying degrees of frequency and intensity:
- Flashbacks – reliving the traumatic event, including the physical symptoms
- Avoiding places, people or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event
- Feeling very tense and being easily startled
- Difficulty remembering parts of the traumatic event
- Feelings of guilt or blame about the event
- Negative feelings about oneself or the world
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
HOW COMMON IS PTSD?
- 31.4% of people will experience a major traumatic event in their lifetime
- 4.4% of people in the UK will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP
PTSD can be scary, it can feel like you are never going to be able to move on from the event, and it can impact on every aspect of your life, from work to relationships to a lack of enjoyment in life in general. It is easy to turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as drugs and alcohol in order to block out the thoughts, and it is important to recognise when this is happening and put in place alternatives:
- Explore mindfulness, which helps to increase awareness of your feelings in the moment and encourages meditation, which is a great way to relax.
- Practice relaxation methods – you could download an app to help you
- Remind yourself they are just memories and that the moment will pass
- Talk to someone you trust
- Identify things that you enjoy doing and make sure you build these into your day
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- To keep things manageable, break tasks down into small, manageable chunks
- Maintain a daily routine to provide your life with structure. Keeping yourself busy and your mind focused on the task in front of you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you may find other things that are helpful for you. However, if you have noticed that you are struggling to cope and the symptoms are affecting your day to day life, it may be time to seek help.
However, in some cases, self-help is not enough, professional intervention may be required to assist in recovery.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TREATMENT?
- Develop skills on how to identify symptoms.
- Learn how to have a more positive view of oneself and the world.
- Gain the ability to cope with symptoms and build resilience.
- Treat other problems linked to a traumatic experience such as depression, anxiety or drug and alcohol misuse.
WHAT TYPES OF THERAPY CAN HELP PTSD?
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EDMR)
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
- Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
WHERE CAN I GO FOR SUPPORT?
- Speak to your GP, and they can signpost you to get the help you need through the NHS.
- There are many charities out there (see useful links) that can offer support.
- We offer a free 15 minute private and confidential telephone consultation. Book yours today online, or if you would like to know more about our services, please contact us today
Can PTSD be treated?
With the appropriate intervention, the symptoms associated with PTSD can improve and become manageable, enabling an individual to carry out everyday tasks and cope with the memories of the traumatic event.
What triggers PTSD?
Triggers can include scents, sounds, sights or thoughts linked to the traumatic event. Some triggers can be more obviously associated with the event than others.
How does PTSD affect a person’s life?
PTSD can prevent a person from carrying normal, everyday tasks and make it difficult to maintain relationships and relate to others.
Does PTSD affect memory?
For many people with PTSD, it can impact their ability to concentrate and can even lead to memory loss, especially with memories linked to the traumatic event.
Does PTSD go away on its own?
Usually, PTSD does not just disappear by itself, without treatment symptoms can last for many months or even years. These symptoms may come and go in waves. Treatment can make a massive difference in an individual’s life.