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Post Traumatic Stress

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can develop after being exposed to one or a series of traumatic events.  Trauma is an event where an individual experiences intense fear and helplessness and feels that their own or others' safety is under threat. PTSD may occur, for example, after being involved in or witnessing a life threatening situation, assault, rape, severe accidents, disasters, fire, bomb blast, or being involved in a war zone. It may occur after serious injury or witnessing the death of a family member and may also be the consequence of childhood neglect and abuse.

Between 5-10% of the population will experience post traumatic stress at some time in their lives. 20-40% of those affected will experience problems over a period of a year and 15-20% will experience problems lasting more than two years.

When an individual is traumatised their psyche feels overwhelmed and is unable to comprehend and integrate their experience. Dreams and nightmares about the traumatic event may replay the original trauma, and the individual may suffer from flashbacks and intrusive imagery. PTSD sufferers often avoid situations associated with the trauma (people, places, activities). They may also feel emotionally numb or disconnected, or show signs of increased irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, hyper vigilance or enhanced startled response. Some individuals find it difficult to remember the actual events or details of the original traumatising event.

Some people may become dependent on drugs or alcohol as a way of stress relief and managing unbearable feelings.

In the UK there is a range of treatments available for PTSD, including counselling and psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).