Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that happens in response to a traumatic experience. If you’re dealing with PTSD, you might experience nightmares or flashbacks, difficulty concentrating and have sleep issues, or even insomnia.
It’s important to note that research has found no link between PTSD and resilience. Some people suffering from PTSD may feel embarrassed or feel like they should simply cope better, which may stop them from accessing the support they need.
But there is no evidence that those with this disorder are psychologically weaker. The causes aren’t known, but it is a common response to trauma, and around one in three people who have had a frightening experience will be left with PTSD. Fortunately, it is a treatable condition.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a response to enduring a physically or psychologically traumatic event. It could happen in response to any number of events, but some common ones are:
- Car accidents
- Military combat
- Sexual violence
- Domestic abuse
- Natural disaster
- Witnessing a crime or violence
During such an event it is normal, and even desirable to have a fight or flight response, as it can help you stay safe in an emergency situation. Some people get stuck in this response even after the initial event is over though, and it becomes an ingrained habit.
What is complex post-traumatic stress disorder?
The main difference between PTSD and complex PTSD is the frequency of the trauma that precedes it. PTSD is usually caused by one event, whereas complex PTSD is caused by repeated trauma, such as neglect and violence, that lasts for months or even years.
Your symptoms may be more severe if the trauma was experienced in childhood, caused by a parent, and happened for a long time. Being alone and still being in contact with the person responsible for inflicting the trauma is also associated with worsening of symptoms.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD can vary quite a lot between people, but they will almost always affect your ability to live a normal life. Not everyone with PTSD will experience all of the symptoms, but some of the main ones include:
- Intrusive memories
- Memory gaps
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma
- Repressing emotions
- Unprovoked outbursts
- Dangerous behaviour
- Feeling isolated from others
- Overreacting to stimuli
- Feeling tense and anxious
- Sleep problems
- Poor concentration
- Inability to find joy in previously enjoyed things
Somebody suffering from PTSD is more likely than the average person to have another mental health issue too, such as depression, anxiety or addiction.
How therapy can help PTSD
While PTSD can be a debilitating condition, it is treatable. Even if a lot of time has passed between the event and the present, it is never too late to get support.
Recovery from the disorder will look different for everyone, but broadly speaking therapy will help you come to terms with your experiences and make sense of them. While it will not make the trauma disappear, it can help you process the pain and stop it from constantly retraumatising you.
Together with your therapist, you will learn skills to help lessen its grip on your life. You’ll develop new tools that help minimise your symptoms and move you towards a mindset of posttraumatic growth.
If you’re interested in exploring how therapy could help you tackle PTSD, book in for a free phone consultation with one of our team by calling 01892 249032. Alternatively, click on the green ‘book a consultation’ button to automatically select a time that suits you.
ASSIST Trauma Care – Expert help for people who’ve experienced trauma
Birth Trauma Association – Support for women and their birth partners affected by birth trauma
Combat Stress – Help for servicemen and servicewomen with mental health issues
Disaster Action – Support for people impacted by major disasters
Freedom from Torture – Support for survivors of torture
PTSD Resolution – Help for veterans and their families
RoadPeace – Support for people bereaved or injured due to road accidents
Victim Support – Emotional and practical support for people affected by crime