Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
There are a wide range of traumatic events that might lead to difficulties with psychological functioning. Some examples include;
» child sexual or physical assault
» physical assault
» being kidnapped
» a natural disaster (e.g. a bushfire, flood or cyclone)
» a major car accident
» being diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness e.g. cancer
» finding the body of someone who has committed suicide or been murdered
It is normal to have a wide range of reactions following exposure to one of these traumatic experiences. Common reactions include feeling tense and on edge, numb, shocked, fearful, angry, irritable, sad, guilty, and lacking in interest and motivation. It is also normal to experience difficulty concentrating.
Following a traumatic events support from family and friends and time to respond in your own way are very important. For many people, given time and understanding, their emotional reactions to a trauma settle to manageable levels, over days, weeks, or months as they gradually find ways to come to terms with what has happened. For other people these very strong symptoms persist for a number of months and cause significant distress and disruption in their lives, they then may be diagnosed with Posttraumatic stress disorder. Some of the symptoms of this disorder include;
» distressing thoughts or images
» nightmares about the event
» feeling or acting as if the traumatic event were recurring
» intense psychological distress when exposed to something that triggers memories of the traumatic event.
» physical symptoms such as sweating, muscle tension and rapid heartbeat when exposed to things that trigger memories of the traumatic event.
Avoidance Symptoms such as:
» trying to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, as well as any feelings associated with the trauma (for example using alcohol or other drugs to block out unwanted memories).
» avoiding people, places and activities that trigger memories of the traumatic event.
» not remembering an important part of the traumatic event
» losing interest in, and enjoyment of e.g. leisure activities, study, work or stop participating in such activities altogether.
» feeling detached from other people
» being unable to feel joy or have loving feelings
» not being able to see a future, for example not expecting to have a family or live a long time
The Physical Arousal Symptoms include:
» sleep disturbance
» irritability or anger
» impaired concentration
» being always on the alert for signs of danger
» overeacting to sudden noises
If you are experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, effective treatment helps you to understand your reactions and to process the trauma in such a way that it intrudes less on your daily functioning.