Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is something someone who experiences something they find traumatic may develop
Image: Getty Images)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is something someone may develop if they have experienced something they find traumatic.
Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, but those who have experienced very stressful, frightening or distressing events may develop it.
Many may have heard the term in relation to war veterans, where it was first described as “shell shock”.
However, it’s not only diagnosed in soldiers, and a wide range of traumatic experiences can cause PTSD.
The good thing is that with effective treatment the symptoms of PTSD can be reduced.
Here we go into further detail about what PTSD is, what the symptoms are, and how we can get help for it.
What is PTSD?
According to mental health charity Mind, PTSD is a “mental health problem you may develop after experiencing traumatic events”.
The NHS also describes it as an “anxiety disorder” which is caused by “very stressful, frightening or distressing events”.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
According tot he NHS, someone who suffers from PTSD may relive the traumatic event through “nightmares and flashbacks”.
As a result, they may experience feelings such as “isolation, irritability and guilt”.
This could lead to problems sleeping, such as insomnia, or finding it hard to concentrate.
In addition, Mind states that someone may experience intrusive thoughts or images and physical sensations such as “pain, sweating, nausea or trembling”.
What are the causes of PTSD?
What a person experiences as traumatic can vary from person to person.
Not everyone will develop PTSD from the following situations, but they could.
Some examples listed by Mind are:
- being involved in a car crash
- being raped or sexually assaulted
- being abused, harassed or bullied, including racism, sexism and other types of abuse targeting your identity
- being kidnapped, held hostage or any event in which you fear for your life
- experiencing violence, including military combat, a terrorist attack, or any violent assault
- seeing other people hurt or killed, including in the course of your job, sometimes called secondary trauma
- doing a job where you repeatedly see or hear distressing things, such as the emergency services or armed forces
- surviving a natural disaster, such as flooding, earthquakes or pandemics, such as the coronavirus pandemic
- traumatic childbirth as a mother or partner witnessing a traumatic birth
- losing someone close to you in particularly upsetting circumstances
- being sectioned or getting treatment in a mental health ward
- being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition
How can PTSD be treated?
According to the NHS, PTSD can be successfully treated, even if it develops years after a traumatic event.
However, treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, and how soon they occur after the event.
There are various treatment forms available, including psychological therapies.
Your GP can refer you to these therapies, which can include trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).
Other alternatives includes antidepressants.
If you need more information, you can use Mind’s helpline on 0300 123 3393, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
They are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).