PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic experiences (assault, serious accidents, natural disasters and fire) can happen to anyone. If someone has experienced a traumatic event understandably they may have nightmares and memories of the event replaying for days or weeks following the traumatic event. In most cases, with support and either talking about it or not talking about it (and either is OK) people can heal physically and mentally and recover from the traumatic event. Roughly 20% of people however develop the more longer-lasting and disabling difficulties called PTSD. PTSD may develop months or years after an event or directly from it.
Symptoms of PTSD
Some symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Re-experiencing of the traumatic event through distressing thoughts or pictures of the event (intrusive thoughts);
- Flashbacks (intrusions) of the event where the memory is so strong and vivid it is like the event is happening all over again;
- Nightmares are also common;
- Experiencing strong physical and emotional reactions to reminders of the trauma, such as feeling anxious when hearing a siren for example, or an increased heart rate and sweating when near the site of the trauma;
- Chronic pain;
- Substance misuse (alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs).
Those with PTSD find it hard to relax as they are constantly alert to danger. They may have difficulty concentrating, be irritable or have sudden outbursts of anger and experience difficulty going to and staying asleep.
These traumatic memories are stored differently compared to other memories, and so it often feels like the traumatic event is in the here and now. Counselling can help to aid recovery by looking at the traumatic memories, which in the long-run makes the memories less distressing and allows their storage and location to be in the past. Counselling can also help you to identify strategies to manage your symptoms better (such as intrusions and flashbacks) to help you regain some of your life back.
Looking at the traumatic event in detail may be terrifying, so please ensure you have the support of others around you.