PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder develops after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, for example; victims of war, military combat, serious accident, physical or sexual assault. My definition of trauma is more wide ranging and includes events of normal life such as bereavement, divorce, illness to war, rape and childhood abuse.For some people trauma happens more than once or can be part of their day-to-day experience. Examples of this would be childhood abuse, poverty, living in a war zone, experiencing frequent discrimination and being harassed and/or stalked. It is also true that if a person is supporting those who are traumatized such as the emergency services, they can also be vulnerable to secondary trauma.
Most people who experience a traumatic event will return to normal within a four-week period. Others may continue to experience stress reactions that may get worse over time leading to PTSD, however, for some people the onset of symptoms is delayed.
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Let’s take a brief look at some of the symptoms of PTSD.
Re-living the traumatic event
[li]Intrusive thoughts and images[/li]
[li]Overwhelming emotional distress when reminded of the trauma[/li]
[li]Intense physical reactions when reminded of the trauma[/li]
Avoidance and numbing
[li]Avoidance of thoughts, feelings of the trauma[/li]
[li]Avoidance of reminders of the trauma[/li]
[li]Repressed memories and an inability to recall important aspects of the trauma[/li]
[li]Loss of interest in life in general[/li]
[li]Feeling emotionally numb, detached or cut off[/li]
[li]A sense that there is no point planning for the future[/li]
Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
[li]Problems with getting or staying asleep[/li]
[li]Outbursts of anger or irritability[/li]
[li]Constantly feeling startled or jumpy[/li]
[li]Being panicky with anything to do with the trauma[/li]
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These are all normal reactions to a traumatic event and as stated most people will find that symptoms will disappear within four weeks. If symptoms persist beyond this point, or reactions are very extreme it is possible that you have PTSD. The good news is PTSD is common and it is also treatable.