Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What is your trauma?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Any situation that a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD. Take a look at the lists below: how many symptoms do you have? Three symptoms are enough to qualify for PTSD. What is your trauma? Are you ready to tackle it?

Common causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

These can include:

  • Line of duty, such as combat experiences in the armed forces, emergency services at disaster sites
  • Serious accidents
  • Violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging, robbery or burglary
  • Serious health problems
  • Childbirth experiences
  • Loss of birth parents through adoption or fostering
  • Job loss (unfair dismissal, redundancy)
  • Sudden/unexpected relationship breakup
  • Sudden/unexpected loss of a loved one
  • Severe bullying
  • Domestic violence, even if nonphysical

PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to reminders of the traumatic event
  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Emotionally numbness
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, anger, aggression
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:

  • Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play (trauma play)
  • Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People who repeatedly experience traumatic situations, such as severe neglect, abuse or violence, may be diagnosed with complex PTSD. Complex PTSD can cause similar symptoms to PTSD and may not develop until years after the event. It’s often more severe if the trauma was experienced early in life, as this can affect a child’s development.

How post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is treated

PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event. Any treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and how soon they occur after the traumatic event. Any of the following treatment options may be recommended:

  • Watchful waiting – monitoring your symptoms to see whether they improve or get worse without treatment
  • Antidepressants such as paroxetine or mirtazapine
  • Counselling
  • Hypnotherapy

You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies or a hypnotherapy service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *