PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can result after someone experiences a deeply traumatic event, or a series of traumas. The specific type of event varies; for example, a car crash, an assault (sexual or otherwise), being involved in war or violence, or even seeing terrible things happen to someone else, can all lead to PSTD symptoms. These symptoms can include flashbacks, difficulty remembering the event, and problems such as elevated heart rate and stress responses, even in the absence of danger. Often, people with PTSD avoid thinking about the stressful event, and might even have difficulty recalling it, while periodically experiencing involuntary flashbacks. When people with PSTD experience a flashback or a recurrence of stress, they go through much of the original trauma, and experience similar levels of stress, without resolution.
PTSD also implies some distance from the event; while a stress reaction to an event that is still ongoing is normal and healthy, continuing to experience serious stress long afterwards is a problem, and can have a massive impact on quality of life, and on the ability to form positive relationships, and even parent.
While anyone who experiences trauma can develop PTSD in response, there might also be a genetic element, with some people being naturally more susceptible to the condition than others.
PTSD clearly has serious psychological repercussions, and it can also impact on one’s physical health, as it can lead to people experiencing all the symptoms of severe stress – secretion of high levels of adrenaline, elevated heart rate, etc. – even in the absence of a threat. This puts the body under strain and can aggravate underlying physical conditions. Moreover, people with untreated PTSD are vulnerable to misusing alcohol and drugs, often in an attempt to “treat” their symptoms.
Treating PTSD and Trauma
As a general rule, the earlier the sufferer is treated, the more effective therapy is likely to be. However, even in cases when the original trauma happened a long time ago, psychotherapy can have a very dramatic impact. In the short term, there may be a benefit in using medication, such as an anti-depressant, but for the long term treatment of PTSD and trauma, therapies that work on changing reactions and behaviours, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR), are the best approaches, often in tandem with learning how to identify “avoidance behaviour”, and acquiring techniques that can help to keep anxiety levels under control. It may also be useful to avail of help available in the community, such as a support group, and to work on physical wellbeing and health as well as addressing psychological issues.
If you would like to talk to someone about PTSD or trauma, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic by telephone at: 020 81507563 or by email to: email@example.com