Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a set of reactions that develop for people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event that endangers their life or the safety of others around them. The events that cause PTSD differ from car accidents, sexual or physical assault, separations, war-related, torture or even natural disasters like fires etc. Soon after the traumatic event, it is common to experience feelings of sadness, fear, grief, guilt or distress. Generally, these feelings may resolve on their own; however, if the distress continues or gets worse, it may mean that you could have developed PTSD.
Common symptoms of PTSD fit within four main types of difficulties:
reliving the traumatic events through unwanted, recurring memories, flashbacks, or very vivid nightmares. In addition, there is normally an intense emotional or physical reaction when you are reminded of the event. Including sweating, heart palpitations or a panic attack.
Blocking out and avoiding reminders of the traumatic event. Like thoughts, feelings, places, people, or situations that bring you back to the event.
The negative impact and changes to your feelings and thoughts. Feelings of anger, panic, numbness and developing self-beliefs of “I am bad” or “I am unsafe” convincing yourself with fear.
Overly alert or easily irritated. Lack of concentrations and being easily startled, and the constant lookout for danger.
A health practitioner may diagnose you with PTSD if you have significant symptoms in each of these four areas for a month or longer as it is impacting your day-to-day life.
PTSD in children
About one-third of children who go through a traumatic experience will develop PTSD. Younger children can express distress in a different way to adults and teenagers experiencing PTSD distress. Younger children may re-live the trauma through doing a repetitive play to stay away from the unwanted memories. Many suffer from unrecognisable nightmares, lose interest in play and becoming socially withdrawn or suffer extreme tantrums.
Impact of PTSD
Up to 80 per cent of people who have long-standing PTSD develop additional health problems, most commonly in depression and anxiety alongside substance misuse with alcohol or drugs, to block out painful memories, which will only work temporarily, continuing to a harder recovery. PTSD can affect many day-to-day things, such as failing to go to work, not relating to your family and friends, and distancing yourself from not feeling or thinking. By this, you are impacting not only your life but your loved ones too. PTSD causes a big shut off to the world and others, creating an isolated mindset.
It’s important to recognise when you will need to seek help for PTSD; if you feel you have experienced bad trauma or distress that is still affecting your after two weeks or is an ongoing issue, reach out to professional help. Here at The Devon Clinic, we have highly qualified doctors who can help on the road to recovery with PTSD. So do not suffer in silence and overcome your battles with the right guidance.