PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Adults with PTSD

The thoughts, feelings and beliefs and symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) can have a dramatic impact on everyday life of sufferers. Usually symptoms transpire within the first four weeks after a traumatic distressing event. But, in a small selection of cases, there could be weeks, months or even many years, before any noticeable symptoms appear.

Some people with PTSD suffer significant periods when their negative thoughts, feelings, beliefs and symptoms are less obvious. This is often followed by later periods when they get much worse. Another section of PTSD sufferers may have very distressing, severe and continuous symptoms. Although PTSD symptoms vary considerably between people, they tend to generally fit within the broad symptoms below:

  • regular and upsetting images or sensations
  • sudden dissociation with here and now, replaced by flashbacks
  • flashbacks are triggered by sound, vision, smell, surroundings, words, times e.g. anniversary or seasons
  • physical sensations - re: sweating, nausea, fast heartbeat, pain or trembling ('fight and flight' response)
  • recurring nightmares which always regress back to the root cause of the traumatic event.

Why recurring nightmares happen, to some people but not all, is still not clear. In a minority of cases the effects of trauma minimise without therapy over a period of time. That is why PTSD should not be formally diagnosed until a 6 month or more period. Simply put, PTSD symptoms and flashbacks tell us that the associated memories (smell, sound, people, location, words, actions) of the traumatic incident have not yet been processed. This is where experienced, specialised, trauma therapy is needed, where the PTSD Therapist regresses the client back via Psychotherapy and/or Hypnotherapy, to identify, release and start to forget disturbing aspects of the trauma.

Some people with PTSD push the incident and memories to the back of their mind. They try to use distractions such as binge-eating, extra work, extra exercise, social activities, excess alcohol, non-prescribed drugs, gambling or other distractions. Although this may sometimes work, for short periods, it soon then becomes a problem of its own.

Some PTSD sufferers are acutely anxious so find it very hard to relax. They are constantly feeling there are many threats around them, so they are very easily startled. This creates the condition known as hyperarousal ('fight and flight' response).

Hyperarousal usually consists of:

  • insomnia (sleeping problems)
  • difficulties in memory and concentration
  • inner frustration and angry outbursts
  • irritability and acute tension
  • unpredictable and unwanted hyper-energy

There are many other challenges people with PTSD suffer with including: Self-Harm or other destructive behaviour, e.g. alcohol misuse, drug misuse, gambling. Further physical symptoms e.g. dizziness, stomach aches, headaches and chest pains. Additional mental health problems including: anxiety, stress, depression, panic, phobias, negative thinking, social anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal risk. PTSD can also trigger employment-related challenges and ultimately the breakdown of: social, family and partner relationships.

Children with PTSD

Children can also suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). They often have the same symptoms as older people, e.g. flashbacks, sleeping problems, distressing nightmares, hyperarousal, acute anxiety and panic etc. However, some symptoms are more related to just children with PTSD. Such as: re-playing the PTSD event(s), via what appears to be normal play, often with dolls, toys, pictures, drawings etc. A common way that children re-play PTSD event(s), reminders or flashbacks is to say 'i have a bad headache' or 'my stomach really aches'. At this time we often find that they try to avoid leaving parents or caregivers to attend school or college, known as Separation Anxiety. Other symptoms in which the child plays-out their inner turmoil re PTSD is via, nightmares, night terrors, wanting to suddenly sleep in parents bed, not wanting their light switched off, not wanting to go to bed at all.

Obviously, its usual and expected to experience stressful, anxious and very upsetting thoughts, feelings and beliefs after a PTSD event, but in many people the memory and disturbance of the PTSD event slowly improve naturally over a period of time. Again, this is the reason why, although someone may have PTSD symptoms they cannot be officially tested or diagnosed until at least 6 months period. Your GP may want to talk to you about your symptoms in alot of detail, if possible. They will ask you if and which traumatic events you have unintentionally flashed-back to consciously or through nightmares subconsciously/unconsciously.




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