Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lives. Examples of these events can include physical and sexual abuse or assault, accidents, threats, military combat, being a witness to violence or death, or hearing about someone close to you who experienced trauma. Although these experiences are always difficult to deal with, not everyone will go on to have PTSD.
Following a traumatic event, people who go on to suffer from PTSD may experience symptoms such as:
- Re-experiencing the Traumatic Event.
People with PTSD often have memories of the event even when they don’t want to. This can happen through thoughts, images, or even nightmares. Following these memories, people will usually become intensely upset for extended periods of time and experience changes to their body such as rapid heart rate, sweating, dizziness, or chest pain.
- Avoidance of Reminders.
Since memories of traumatic experiences can be so upsetting, those with PTSD will usually try to avoid them. They may try to avoid the thoughts themselves through activities like distraction. They are also likely to avoid people, places, activities and situations that remind them of the event, and will often avoid talking about it altogether.
- Negative Mood and Thoughts.
When people suffer from PTSD, their way of thinking changes. They may begin to hold negative beliefs about themselves, such as that they are bad people or are to blame for the traumatic event. Negative beliefs about the world are also common, such as that no one can be trusted or there is danger lurking everywhere. Along with these beliefs, people with PTSD will also experience changes in their mood. This can involve an inability to experience positive emotions, like happiness, or persistent negative emotions such as fear, anger, or shame. They may also feel unable to connect with other people and lose interest or pleasure in activities they used to enjoy.
- Changes in Arousal and Behaviour.
Those with PTSD often become “keyed up” or “on edge.” This can lead to problems with sleeping and poor concentration. People may startle very easily and constantly be on high alert for danger. Changes in behaviour are also common, such as acting aggressively or engaging in activities that are self-destructive or reckless, like drinking excessively.
Together, these symptoms can cause significant distress and negatively affect people’s ability to function effectively.
If you or someone you know has some or all of these symptoms, it may be due to PTSD. Psychologists at EBT3 are trained in using psychological assessment tools to find out whether this is the case. They are also experienced in treating PTSD and the related symptoms using approaches that have been proven to be effective, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy.
For more information about PTSD, or to find an experienced psychologist, please contact us.
Video used with permission from the US Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD