Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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
flashbacks (feeling that the trauma is happening all over again)
intrusive thoughts and images
intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma.
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
unable to express affection
feeling thereís no point in planning for the future.
Being easily upset or angry
and aggressive behaviour
to anything to do with the trauma
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.
PTSD can occur after
experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as:
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
Acting or feeling as
though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a
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
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
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.
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