trauma and ptsd

Experiencing or witnessing single or multiple traumatic events, such as road traffic accidents, violent or sexual assaults, military combat, childhood abuse or neglect, or natural or man-made disasters, can result in some people developing traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common symptoms of PTSD:

One of the main symptoms of traumatic stress and PTSD is re-experiencing the event, such as by having intrusive memories,  flashbacks or nightmares – these can seem quite vivid and intense, and are often accompanied by physical sensations including the smells, sounds and emotions that occurred at the time of the event.  It is common for people to start avoiding places, people, situations and reminders of the traumatic event; and to try and push memories of the event (sometimes in the form of fragments) out of their mind.  Many people find that they become more anxious, aroused or edgy – they may feel more aware or vigilant of their surroundings, and jumpy or nervous.  People often experience changes in mood (e.g. feeling more low, depressed, frightened), and develop negative beliefs about others or the world (e.g. that people cannot be trusted, the world is dangerous) and about themselves (e.g. guilt, shame, self-blame).  Traumatic stress and PTSD can impact substantially on everyday life.

What can help?

Several psychological therapies have been consistently shown to effectively treat traumatic stress and PTSD.  These are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR.  Compassion Focused Therapy is also beneficial for treating symptoms that can occur alongside traumatic stress, such as low mood, self-criticism or self-blame.