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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is PTSD?

  • PTSD is a disorder that can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. 

  • Any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event is perceived as unpredictable and uncontrollable.

 

A stressful event is most likely to be traumatic if: 

  • It happened unexpectedly

  • You were unprepared for it

  • You felt powerless to prevent it 

  • It happened repeatedly 

  • Someone was intentionally cruel

  • It happened in childhood

Trauma is:

  • Any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. 

  • Can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards (e.g. emergency services, friends, family of those who experienced trauma).

  • A response by normal people to an abnormal situation.

Why do some people get PTSD & some don't?

  • Events that trigger PTSD are usually so overwhelming and frightening that they would upset anyone. 

  • When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel crazy, disconnected, or numb – and most people do. 

  • The difference between people who  develop PTSD and those who don’t is how they cope with the trauma.

  • After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock, but as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. 

  • With PTSD however you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. 

  • In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions. Counselling can help with this.

Impacts of PTSD 

 

PTSD:

  • Can affect the way you see yourself/others/the world

  • May lead to you experiencing the world as a dangerous/frightening place or seeing people as “not to be trusted”

  • May lead to feelings of fear/helplessness/powerlessness/anger/shame/guilt/hopelessness

  • Takes time to recover from. This is different for everyone

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms

 

Re-Experiencing the Traumatic Event

• Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event 

• Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again) 

• Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things) 

• Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma 

• Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

Avoidance and Emotional Numbing

• Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma 

• Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma 

• Loss of interest in activities and life in general 

• Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb 

• Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

 

Increased Arousal

• Difficulty falling or staying asleep 

• Irritability or outbursts of anger 

• Difficulty concentrating 

• Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”) 

• Feeling jumpy and easily startled

 

Other Common Symptoms 

• Anger and irritability 

• Guilt, shame, or self-blame 

• Substance abuse 

• Depression and hopelessness 

• Suicidal thoughts and feelings 

• Feeling alienated and alone 

• Feelings of mistrust and betrayal 

• Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain

 

Emotional Symptoms

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief 

  • Anger, irritability, mood swings 

  • Guilt, shame, self-blame 

  • Feeling sad or hopeless

  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating 

  • Anxiety and fear

  • Withdrawing from others 

  • Feeling disconnected or numb

 

Physical Symptoms

  • Insomnia or nightmares 

  • Being startled easily

  • Racing heartbeat 

  • Aches and pains

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Edginess and agitation

  • Muscle tension

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