After someone has experienced a traumatic event it is normal to feel frightened, sad and anxious.
However, it you are constantly reliving painful memories and experiencing a heightened sense of danger, you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a form of anxiety which develops after being involved in or witnessing traumatic events.
The condition was first given attention after it was recognised war veterans were suffering from the disorder.
Before this it had been known under a variety of different names, such as “shell shock”.
However, it is not just war that may cause PTSD, other event such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, violent assaults or road accidents can trigger the disorder.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD will vary from person to person.
However, some may experience nightmares or flashbacks. This includes repetitive and distressing images or sensations.
These may evolve into physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling.
Sufferes may also experience the feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.
Other symptoms can include insomnia, difficulty concentrating, numbness, loss of deep feelings, headaches, dizziness, chest pains or depression.
Someone who suffers from PTSD may try to avoid the activities that could trigger memories of the event. Others may resort to alcohol or drug use.
The symptoms can take months or even years to manifest, and may severely effect someone’s day-to-day life.
Others may go for significant amounts of time without having flare-ups.
How is PTSD treated?
Professional help can be sought to treat PTSD. It is never too late to seek help.
It is possible to successfully treat PTSD many years after the event.
Before treatment is carried out a detailed assessment of all the symptoms will be carried out.
This is often done by your GP, but you will then be referred to a mental health specialist if you have experienced symptoms for more than four weeks.
Psychological therapies are usually recommended first. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, eye movement desensitisation and preprocessing or group therapy.
Medication can also be given to treat PTSD in adults.