Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ©

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a reaction to exposure to very stressful and traumatising events. People experience flashbacks, panic attacks and other acute symptoms from events that include traumatic accidents, rape, natural or man-made disasters, violent attacks such as a mugging, unexpected destruction of your home, violent personal assaults, robberies, serious road accidents, or threats to you or to your close relatives or friends. Another symptom is anhedonia, which is characterised by a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. Deliberate acts of violence are more likely to result in PTSD than natural accidents or events.  


PTSD may also occur in any other situation where a person feels extreme horror, fear or helplessness. It is rare for it to develop after situations that are upsetting, such as job losses, divorces, or the failing of exams. A person with PTSD may experience problems concentrating and sleeping, and feel isolated and detached. They may relive a traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares. These symptoms are so severe that they can have a significant impact on a person's day-to-day life. They include, anger, emotional numbing, drug or alcohol misuse and depression.


Although post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, sometimes the symptoms might not appear for years following the event. These symptoms can cause significant problems in the person’s work or social situation and in their relationships and can interfere with the person’s ability to go about their normal daily tasks. Common symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the event in nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding things or places associated with the event, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, poor concentration and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.


Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood:

  • Always being on guard for danger

  • A feeling of being cut off from others

  • Being easily startled or frightened

  • Being on guard or vigilant

  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions

  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

  • Feeling detached from family and friends

  • Having negative views of yourself or others

  • Hopelessness regarding the future

  • Feeling emotionally numb

  • Lacking interest in activities once enjoyed

  • Memory problems, not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event

  • Self-destructive behaviour, such as driving too fast or drinking too much


Therapy

Psychotherapy is a most effective form of treatment for healing the effects following a trauma. Therapy helps people to make sense of their experiences and feelings. It enables the client to develop plans to stay safe and to learn healthy coping skills. The therapy sessions can help the client to heal from the trauma long after the traumatic event has taken place. One of the most common reasons people seek counselling or therapy is to deal with unresolved trauma.

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry