Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by stressful or traumatic life experiences.

The NHS estimates that 1 in 3 people will experience PTSD due to a traumatic event.

Take a look below at Dr Nick’s summary of PTSD, its symptoms and how someone may treat or manage the condition.

The cause of PTSD is literally in the name – trauma.

After an individual goes through a significant life event, their mind attempts to find a way of dealing with that experience.

There is no agreement among scientists about why some people develop Post Traumatic Stress and some do not.

Symptoms

The symptoms of PTSD vary widely for each individual. They tend to fall into particular categories.

Reliving Trauma

This is one of the most commonly shown symptoms of someone who has PTSD. When you see a soldier reliving the trauma experienced during a conflict – that is an example of this.

Symptoms grouped into this are ones that force someone to face trauma again like they are back in the situation that caused them mental harm, including nightmares, sensations such as sweating, and flashbacks.

Some individuals with PTSD find themselves constantly reliving the experience or examining the situation in a way that makes them feel bad about themselves – impacting their minds negatively.

Living on the Edge

Symptoms in this category are those that lead to a person not being able to relax or settle, leaving them in a heightened mental state almost constantly – known as hyperarousal. Some may experience hyperarousal as:

  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty controlling anger

Avoiding Trauma

When experiencing PTSD, some will go out of their way to avoid reminders of the situation they went through.

Here someone finds ways not to be reminded of events. In some cases, a person may find distractions as a way of not dealing with their emotions. This can come in many ways depending on the individual, but people living with PTSD are more likely to turn to avenues such as drugs or alcohol abuse.

Diagnosis

When it comes to getting diagnosed with PTSD, there is a process that you have to go through. This normally starts by visiting your GP or contacting a private Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist who will take a look at your experiences, medical history, and more to get a detailed view of your life.

Once this has happened, the GP and the Psychiatrist are likely to refer you to a Clinical Psychologist, who will be able to offer you treatment. Most Clinical Psychologists will offer both diagnosis and treatment.

Types of PTSD

Not all types of PTSD are the same, as there are different types that can manifest depending on the stress disorder someone is experiencing.

Delayed onset

This is when PTSD develops up to six months after trauma occurs rather than occurring instantaneously.

Complex

Not all PTSD is the same. This type of stress is something that happens when a person goes through significant traumatic experiences that last a long time.

These experiences can affect someone’s development and can bring a person additional symptoms such as:

  • Disassociation
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Behaviours affecting relationships

Birth

When PTSD develops after traumatic childbirth.

Treatment

Medication

A Psychiatrist may prescribe a person living with PTSD with medicine that tackles the issues the condition brings. If you’re seeing a Clinical Psychologist, they will ask you to see a psychiatrist if medication may be required.

A short course of sleeping tablets may be given for insomnia, or antidepressants for anxiety and depression etc. Mood stabilizers, SSRI’s and antipsychotic medication may also be used to help deal with feelings of anxiety and other symptoms.

Therapy

They say talking helps because it really does. A number of therapies have been shown to help people with PTSD depending on the person; Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure are recommended by the American Psychological Association and NICE.

The best way to find the right treatment for PTSD is to tailor a plan to your needs. Find what works for you (or someone you know) by speaking to a mental health professional who can give you any information and expertise needed.

If you’re in Birmingham, you can always speak to Dr Nick in person. Book online, or take a look at the Stronger Minds blog for more helpful and informative articles.

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