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Clem Turner

                Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What are the symptoms?

If you have faced a traumatic experience, you may simply feel emotionally numb to begin with, and feelings of distress may not emerge straight away. But sooner or later, you are likely to develop emotional and physical reactions, and changes in behaviour, which may include some of the following:

Reliving aspects of the trauma

  • vivid flashbacks (feeling that the trauma is happening all over again)
  • intrusive thoughts and images
  • nightmares
  • intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma.

Avoiding memories

  • keeping busy
  • avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
  • repressing memories (being unable to remember aspects of the event)
  • feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb
  • being unable to express affection
  • feeling thereís no point in planning for the future.

Being easily upset or angry

  • disturbed sleep
  • irritability and aggressive behaviour
  • lack of concentration
  • extreme alertness
  • panic response to anything to do with the trauma
  • being easily startled.

These are all quite common reactions to a traumatic event, and many people find the symptoms will disappear in a relatively short period of time. But if they last for longer than a month, or they are very extreme, you may be given a diagnosis of PTSD.

Traumatic events

PTSD can occur after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as:

  • military combat,
  • serious road accidents,
  • terrorist attacks,
  • natural or man-made disasters,
  • being held hostage,
  • violent deaths, and
  • violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery.

PTSD may also occur in any other situation where a person feels extreme fear, horror or helplessness. However, it does not usually develop after situations that are upsetting, such as divorces, job losses or failing exams.

Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks. They may also have problems concentrating and sleeping, and feel isolated and detached. These symptoms are often persistent and severe enough to have a significant impact on a personís day-to-day life.

Signs and symptoms

  • Having recurrent nightmares

  • Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a "flashback"

  • Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, to reminders of the traumatic event

  • Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep

  • Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger

  • Feeling constantly "on guard" or like danger is lurking around every corner

  • Making an effort to avoid thoughts and feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event

  • A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities

  • Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love

When we experience a trauma we are bombarded with so much information that is so overwhelming we are unable to process it. Normally when information is processed properly the emotion associated with the event subsides and we are able to rationalise the situation. Unfortunately, if the information is not processed, anything that triggers a reminder of the situation will bring back the emotion just as strongly as if we are re experiencing the event now. An example of this would be a soldier who had been traumatised by gunshots in the battlefield. The sound if a car backfiring could be a trigger that brings back the exact emotion that he experienced at the time.

The treatment for PTSD includes first of all processing the unprocessed information using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) followed by HCBT (Hypno Cognitive Behavioural  Therapy) which is a structured way of changing automatic negative thoughts to automatic positive thoughts.

Telephone us today for more information:  01623 556234.


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