Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Trauma occurs when the intensity of an experience is so overwhelming that we are unable to process it. It may be a physical experience such as a road accident, a sexual or physical assault or some form of violence; or it may be emotional/psychological in nature such as witnessing a shocking event, a major loss or a threat to your life which fills you with fear or horror.
Post-traumatic stress is a delayed response to the experience of trauma. Symptoms of this can include:
- feeling detached or emotionally numb
- being unable to remember details of what happened
- being easily startled
- sleep disturbances/nightmares
- intrusive thoughts
There is no time limit on distress, so symptoms may exist long after the event to which they relate.
After a traumatic event, people often feel numb, dazed and disorientated. Talking about what has happened to them may be the last thing they want to do. Many survivors have said that what they found most useful, to begin with, was practical advice, followed by information and support with day-to-day tasks.
Talking about your feelings may be the best way of coming to terms with the experience. Everyone will have their own unique responses, and will need to proceed at their own pace. You may turn to friends, relatives and colleagues, or seek professional help when you decide you do want to talk about what you’ve been through. It is important that you have an opportunity to talk to someone when you are ready to do so. However, you should not be made to talk before you are ready, or even at all, if you do not want to.
How therapy can help
Therapy offers a warm, empathic, safe and confidential environment in which the therapist and you collaboratively work towards:
- Understanding the underlying causes and triggers of your trauma, both conscious and unconscious.
- Talking through your feelings in such a way that enables you to fully process the traumatic experience.
- Developing ways to manage your day-to-day life – this usually involves both cognitive (how you think about it) and behavioural (actions, tasks, homework etc) work.
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